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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Bridging the trust gap over Taiwan Straits (3)

By Tan Zongyang (China Daily)

08:09, March 22, 2012

The village committee then agreed to compensate him 100,000 yuan ($15,800), and the merchant later donated more than half of the money to a local charity for the elderly.

"That was a win-win result," Huang said, adding that the confrontation might have intensified if the case had gone to court.

Harrison Yang said there is no secret to his job other than to invite people involved in disputes to sit down, make them a cup of good tea, and encourage them to engage in open talks.

"In the past, Taiwan businessmen felt insecure about the mainland's legal system, so they tended to remain silent and were ready to pay the fine when they ran into legal disputes."

"Now, they will first come to us for legal advice and argue for their rights. As someone well-connected with the court, I will bring their voices to the judges."

Hu Kai, a judge in Zhangzhou Intermediate People's Court, said mediators like Harrison Yang can often help the court reach the right verdict.

Last year, a school sued an oil paint dealer for selling unsuitable paint.

The dealer, however, insisted that the oil paint producer, a local company owned by a Taiwan businessman, should be held responsible.

When Yang talked with the owner of the oil paint producer, he learned that the dealer only ordered the paint but failed to inform the company what it would be used for.

"The quality of the paint was all right, but it was used for the wrong purpose," Hu said. So it was the dealer's fault for not telling customers how to correctly use the product.

Without that information, the court would have also punished the paint producer, Hu said.

Still in its early days, however, the policy of engaging Taiwan businessmen as mediators has some practical problems to work out.

Most special mediators have limited time for the job because of their businesses, and there is a shortage of funds to subsidize their work as mediators, the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council said in the statement.

Huang, however, thinks the mediators are more likely to do the job as volunteers, out of a sense of social responsibility, than for economic reward, which is negligible alongside their business incomes.

"As Taiwan and Fujian share the same dialect and cultural roots, many of them feel proud to bridge the understanding of judicial practice and the spirit of justice across the Straits," he said.

Hu Meidong contributed to this story.

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