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Central News Agency

2005-03-01 19:07:21

    Taipei, March 1 (CNA) Premier Frank Hsieh said Tuesday that the government will keep its mind open to any possibilities on the eventual development of relations between Taiwan and mainland China and will respect the decision of the 23 million people on the island.

    Hsieh made the remarks during an interpellation session in the Legislative Yuan in response to a proposal by opposition Kuomintang Legislator Ting Shou-chung that Taiwan and the mainland form a confederation similar to the European Union to normalize cross-Taiwan Strait relations.

    Ting also suggested that a referendum be held to let the people vote on this proposed model.

    Hsieh said the government is open to any possibilities under a framework of cross-strait peace and stability.

    Hsieh agreed that Ting's proposal could be a creative resolution to the cross-strait sovereignty dispute, but he also said that the choice of the people must be respected.

    On issues concerning cross-strait agricultural exchanges, Hsieh said they should be carried out step by step because they cover a wide range of issues including products, technology, information, anti-smuggling raids and division of fishery labor.

    According to Council of Agriculture Chairman Lee Chin-lung, Taiwan exported agricultural products worth US$290 million to the mainland in 2004, up 66.1 percent compared with the 2003 figure.

    Lee noted that the country insists on the principles of "Taiwan first," reciprocity and risk management while conducting agricultural exchanges with the mainland.

    The island must also protect itself against the invasion of farm diseases and pests from the mainland, which would cause great losses to Taiwan's agricultural sector, Lee said.

    He said Taiwan is promoting its agricultural products for the mainland and is targeting markets in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

    An official at the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office said last week that Beijing welcomes Taiwan's agricultural sector to make investments on the mainland and will help Taiwanese farmers establish operations there.

(By Y.F. Low)


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