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CHEN DISPUTES RIVAL'S PROMISE FOR DIRECT SHIPPING LINKS WITH CHINA

2004-02-20 23:24:30

    Taipei, Feb. 20 (CNA) President Chen Shui-bian said Friday he disagrees with the advocacy of his rival in the presidential race to open direct transportation links with the mainland in two years because it will compromise Taiwan's identity and will not necessarily help fix Taiwan's economic problems.

    In an interview with Japan's Asahi Television, the president cited Hong Kong and Japan as examples, saying both of them are plagued by economic slowdowns and high unemployment even though their direct transportation links with the mainland have been in place for years.

    Furthermore, mainland China has insisted that transportation links are a country's domestic affair, implying that Taiwan is a part of its territory. Taiwan would be playing into the hands of mainland China by opening the links on Beijing's terms. It is surrendering to Beijing.

    Much as the 2004 presidential election is very fierce, the president said he will win the race by 3 percent to 5 percent.

    He said he looks forward to shaking hands with mainland China's leader in a third country, probably in Japan, during his next term.

(By Maubo Chang)

ENDITEM/mw



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