Li stresses cross-Straits har­mony

Fruit­ful eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion has ‘ ben­e­fited people from both sides’

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By AN BAIJIE in Bei­jing and ZHAO YINAN in Boao, Hainan

Both sides of the Tai­wan Straits should cher­ish the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion of peace­ful de­vel­op­ment and keep en­hanc­ing co­op­er­a­tion, Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang said on Thurs­day.

As long as both con­tinue to com­mu­ni­cate with each other and move for­ward on a com­mon po­lit­i­cal ba­sis, cross-Straits ex­changes and mu­tual un­der­stand­ing will be boosted, Li said on the side­lines of the Boao Fo­rum for Asia An­nual Con­fer­ence.

Li had been meet­ing with a del­e­ga­tion led by Vin­cent C. Siew, hon­orary chair­man of the Cross-Straits Com­mon Mar­ket Foun­da­tion, based in Tai­wan. It was the first time Li had met with a politi­cian from Tai­wan since be­com­ing pre­mier.

The main­land was deep­en­ing re­form, ex­pand­ing open­ing-up, up­grad­ing its eco­nomic struc­ture and main­tain­ing long-term steady growth, which had brought op­por­tu­ni­ties for cross-Straits co­op­er­a­tion, Li said.

The main­land wants to share the op­por­tu­ni­ties of eco­nomic growth with Tai­wan and to take Tai­wan people’s in­ter­ests into con­sid­er­a­tion in cross-Straits ex­changes, he added.

“We sincerely hope that our Tai­wan com­pa­tri­ots can seize the op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Li said.

Siew said the main­land and Tai­wan should pos­i­tively pro­mote the cross-Straits eco­nomic and strate­gic di­a­logue, and es­tab­lish mech­a­nisms to en­hance eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion.

Both sides should go hand in hand, jointly face the chal­lenges and cre­ate a bet­ter fu­ture, Siew said.

Li said cross-Straits ties had im­proved since 2008, and this fruit­ful eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion had ben­e­fited people from the main­land and Tai­wan.

Siew said he was grate­ful for hav­ing been in­vited to at­tend the fo­rum many times in re­cent years, adding that he had met with Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping dur­ing last year’s fo­rum.

Dur­ing the fo­rum’s open­ing cer­e­mony this year, Siew was in­vited to sit in the VIP zone near Zhang Zhi­jun, di­rec­tor of the State Coun­cil Tai­wan Af­fairs Of­fice.

Zhang said on Thurs­day that crossStraits co­op­er­a­tion has been con­tin­u­ously en­hanced in re­cent years, and this should be cher­ished by those from the main­land and Tai­wan.

He told re­porters be­fore the open­ing cer­e­mony that a protest that started last month against the cross-Straits ser­vice trade pact showed that some Tai­wan people feared that only large com­pa­nies could ben­e­fit from the agree­ment.

The pro­test­ers, mostly young stu­dents, ended their oc­cu­pa­tion of the leg­isla­tive cham­ber on Thurs­day.

Zhang said he wanted to have dis­cus­sions with small and medi­um­sized com­pa­nies in Tai­wan to hear their views.

Asked if he wished to talk to the stu­dents who protested against the pact, Zhang said he was will­ing to talk to people from all walks of life in Tai­wan.

He said it was clear that the protest would not af­fect the de­vel­op­ment of cross-Straits ties, adding that he hoped to visit Tai­wan in the first half of this year.

The protest was trig­gered af­ter the rul­ing Kuom­intang in Tai­wan de­cided to by­pass a de­tailed pub­lic re­view of the agree­ment. Pro­test­ers tar­geted what they said was an un­demo­cratic process, fear­ing the pact’s im­ple­men­ta­tion would hurt the is­land’s businesses and cause job losses.

On March 30, about 100,000 pro­test­ers joined a sit-in on Ke­ta­galan Boule­vard and nearby streets in Taipei.

A fol­low-up to the 2010 Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion Frame­work Agree­ment, the ser­vice trade agree­ment aims to open up 80 of the main­land’s ser­vice sec­tors to Tai­wan and 64 Tai­wan sec­tors to the main­land.

Tai­wan leader Ma Ying-jeou said on Wed­nes­day that if the crossStraits ser­vice trade pact could not be en­acted, the is­land’s econ­omy would be se­ri­ously af­fected, tai­wan. cn re­ported.

The pact could bring more job op­por­tu­ni­ties, not un­em­ploy­ment, to Tai­wan, Ma said, adding that as of Jan­uary, Tai­wan had opened 495 com­pa­nies on the main­land, which had hired 9,624 work­ers from the is­land.

Ma said on Tues­day that Tai­wan’s op­po­si­tion party should not boy­cott the re­view, and the pub­lic should reach a con­sen­sus ben­e­fit­ing the people of Tai­wan in the fu­ture. He wel­comed the pro­test­ers’ de­ci­sion to leave the leg­isla­tive cham­ber, which they had oc­cu­pied since mid-March.

Justin Yifu Lin, for­mer World Bank vice-pres­i­dent and an eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor at Pek­ing Univer­sity, voiced sup­port for the Tai­wan au­thor­i­ties’ ef­forts to stim­u­late eco­nomic growth.

The pur­suit of free trade was a global trend, and Tai­wan people should fo­cus on what was good for the lo­cal econ­omy, Lin said on Wed­nes­day at a ques­tion-an­dan­swer ses­sion at the fo­rum.

Born in Tai­wan and speak­ing of his ex­pe­ri­ences over the past 40 years, Lin said that dis­cus­sions on any other sub­ject would be in vain if Tai­wan failed to grasp the op­por­tu­nity for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. Con­tact the writ­ers at an­bai­jie@ chi­nadaily.com.cn and zhaoy­i­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn.

WU ZHIYI / CHINA DAILY

Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang meets with Vin­cent C. Siew, hon­orary chair­man of the Cross-Straits Com­mon Mar­ket Foun­da­tion, on the side­lines of the Boao Fo­rum for Asia An­nual Con­fer­ence in Hainan prov­ince on Thurs­day.

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