Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Sunday, September 21, 2003

'Spending hard-earned money for nothing': interview

Wang Zaixi, deputy head of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, when interviewed by PD (Overseas Edition) correspondent Zhang Heping on some questions concerning current cross-Strait relations on August 26, answered the questions posed by the correspondent. The discussion began with the "referendum" pushed by the leader of Taiwan authorities.


Wang Zaixi, deputy head of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, when interviewed by PD (Overseas Edition) correspondent Zhang Heping on some questions concerning current cross-Strait relations on August 26, answered the questions posed by the correspondent. The discussion began with the "referendum" pushed by the leader of Taiwan authorities.

Wang said: we've always supported Taiwan compatriots in their struggle for political democracy, this is true of the "February 28" Uprising at the end of the 1940s. But the present so-called referendum, in essence, means that Taiwan authorities are going in for "Taiwan independence" under the banner of "democracy".

He said that in Taiwan, public opinions can be solicited on some questions, including "poll" and the "fourth nuclear plant", through various forms. But now the "referendum" wanted to be done by Taiwan authorities is, in my opinion, just like "the intention of the drunkard lies not on the wine, but on other purposes". This is a dangerous trend. The leader of Taiwan authorities advertises "one country on each side" of [the Straits], attempting to make a big fanfare by the use of "referendum", further worsen cross-Strait relations in order to attain his separatist aim.

He emphasized: We understand Taiwan people's feeling of longing for democracy and freedom, respect Taiwan compatriots' desire for being masters of their own destiny, but we resolutely oppose Taiwan authorities' acts of challenging the "one China" principle and using "referendum" to carry out splitting activities. On the question regarding realization of reunification of the motherland, as Taiwan is part of China, methods for proper solution of the issue can be found on the one-China premise and through cross-Strait consultation, the issue cannot be resolved through "referendum". We believe that our stand can be understood by Taiwan compatriots.

Concerning cross-Strait "three links" (of mail, trade and transport) and direct flight, Wang said: the proposal on exchanges of mail, trade and air and shipping services was put forward as early as the "Message to Taiwan Compatriots" issued by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) on the New Year Day of 1979 and Chairman Ye Jianying's talks with Xinhua News Agency correspondent on September 30, 1981. The "three links" have been our consistent proposition, for a long period of time, we have been making unremitting efforts for promoting "three links".

Wang listed a large amount of data to explain the necessity and urgency for "three links", especially direct flights. He said that there are over 3 million persons/times coming from Taiwan to the mainland annually, the trade volume between the two sides this year will exceed US$50 billion, large numbers of personnel and huge amounts of goods are being exchanged. The impossibility of "three links" has resulted in tremendous wastes of human and material resources including time; If the "three links" are possible, airplanes can fly from Taipei and Kaoxiung directly to Fuzhou, Xiamen, Guangzhou and other places.

He said that if a plane flies from Fuzhou direct to Taipei, it takes only some 40 minutes; but now it takes four hours flying to Taipei via Hong Kong. An estimate shows that the impossibility for cross-Strait direct flight has incurred a loss of some one hundred billion Taiwan money, equivalent to billions of US dollars. A Taiwan "poll" shows that over two-thirds of Taiwan people stand for direct cross-Strait "three links". Driven by pressure, the Taiwan authorities recently put forward the "three-stages theory on cross-Strait direct flight". I think this is merely a gesture, lacking any sincerity. We hope for progress in "three links", and hope for comprehensive, direct and two-way "three links", not one-way, indirect and limited "three links". There is a big gap between "Spring Festival chartered airplane" and "chartered airplane direct flight", now only Taiwan civil airplanes are allowed to enter the Chinese mainland, while mainland civil airplanes are not permitted to fly into Taiwan.

Wang emphasizes that so long as sincerity is exhibited, it is not hard to solve the "three links" problem, moreover, it can be settled very quickly. The problem can be resolved this year so long as its settlement is wanted. The "three links" are to the benefit of both sides, it is even more advantageous to Taiwan compatriots, particularly to the economic circle. Therefore I believe the "three links" can definitely be realized, because it represents the common aspiration of the people and the general trend. I hope that compatriots on both sides will make common efforts to continue to hasten the "three links" process and to realize the "three links" as soon as possible, so as to bring benefits to compatriots on both sides of the Straits.

When asked by the correspondent about his view on the prospect of cross-Strait relations, Wang answered: In the long run, I'm optimistic about cross-Strait relations. Compatriots of Taiwan and their counterparts on the Chinese mainland are brothers, although due to historical reasons, the two sides have long been kept in separation and some Taiwan compatriots have misunderstanding and different views about the mainland, the majority of Taiwan compatriots, however, identify the Chinese nation and they disapprove of "Taiwan independence". We should fully understand Taiwan compatriots' psyche formed under special historical backdrops. I believe that along with increasing cross-Strait exchanges, contacts and links, those Taiwan compatriots would change their views, would recognize the one-China principle and support reunification after they have acquired genuine knowledge about the Chinese mainland. Regarding this, we should have patience.

Wang said that now the situation in the Chinese mainland is excellent. The CPC Central Committee with Hu Jintao as the general secretary attaches great importance to the Taiwan issue and shows immense concern for Taiwan compatriots. General Secretary Hu Jintao, while attending the penal discussions during the "two sessions" (the NPC and CPPCC sessions) in March this year, pointed out that whatever thing that is beneficial to Taiwan compatriots, to the reunification of the two sides of the Taiwan Straits and to the great cause of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, we should do it actively and strive to do it well. From a long-term point of view, China will ultimately be reunified, this is the inexorable trend. Regarding this, I am full of confidence.

When asked about our principles, policies and attitude toward the fact that currently there are large numbers of Taiwan businesspeople doing business and living in the mainland, and more and more Taiwan students studying, seeking jobs and being employed on the mainland, Wang indicated that this is a very gratifying phenomenon resulted from the steady expansion of cross-Strait exchanges and contacts. He said that our attitude is, first of all, that political differences should not be allowed to interfere with the normal exchange among people on both sides of the Straits; secondly, in regard to promoting cross-Strait exchanges and contacts, we will adopt more active measures facilitating expansion of exchanges. For instance, in regard to Taiwan business people's investment, we will work harder to protect their interests and give them definite preferential treatment and consideration in the aspects of land use, taxation and price. We will also adopt some new policies toward those studying and being employed on the mainland. Regarding these, policies, rules and regulations will be gradually perfected. Governments at various levels pay close attention to this, they are striving to correct what is irrational; and are trying their best to perfect what is imperfect.

While answering the correspondent's question regarding Taiwan authorities purchasing weaponry and equipment from the United States, Wang expressed the view that Taiwan authorities' spending of lots of money on the purchase of weapons is an act of exhausting the people and draining the treasury, this consumes Taiwan people's hard-earned money for nothing and brings adverse effect on the stability of the Taiwan Straits situation. Taiwan authorities' purchase of weapons is done mainly out of political consideration, intending to strike political deals. He also pointed out that currently, compatriots on both sides of the Straits are striving for the stability and peace on the two sides of the Straits and that the Chinese mainland is adopting arms reduction and other measures. Under such circumstances, Taiwan authorities are working for all they are worth to increase military strengths, which can only lead to cross-Strait arms race. If Taiwan authorities really want to "go all out for the economy" and really show concerns for the welfare of the Taiwan people, it is better for them to use these amounts of money to develop the economy and municipal works construction. Finally, Wang stressed that the key to the security of the Taiwan Straits is that Taiwan authorities should neither challenge the one-China principle nor go in for division. If they go in for secession, whatever amount of weapons they purchase is of no avail, expanding or increasing their armed force will not bring security to Taiwan. Taiwan authorities are bent on expanding military strengths, once war breaks out, it is Taiwan's ordinary people who will suffer disasters.

This exclusive interview is published on page 5 of People's Daily (Overseas Edition) September 17, 2003.

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