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ROC Central News Agency

2005-03-29 15:19:34

    Taipei, March 29 (CNA) The government's new measures concerning cross-strait exchanges will take into consideration China's recent enactment of the Anti-Secession Law, the vice chairman of the Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said Tuesday.

    Liu Teh-hsun made the remarks in a breakfast meeting with the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) caucus in the Legislative Yuan.

    The KMT legislative caucus invited officials from the MAC and the Council of Agriculture (COA) to report on the future course of cross-strait relations after hundreds of thousands of Taiwan people staged a march Saturday to protest against Beijing's newly passed law.

    KMT Legislator Su Chi said that the law, which justifies an attack on Taiwan under certain conditions it sets, is part of Beijing's carrot-and-stick approach toward Taiwan. He said that while enacting the law, Beijing has also tried to lure Taiwan with various incentives, including offering to allow the island's agricultural products to be exported to the mainland.

    Su asked what the government will do in addition to staging the March 26 protest.

    Noting that the private sector hopes to resume cross-strait talks and that the MAC said last month that cross-strait talks can be based on the bilateral talks in Hong Kong in 1992, Su also asked about Beijing's response.

    In reply, Liu said, the government will not restrict cross-strait exchanges that are conducive to lowering cross-strait tensions.

    Those exchanges will basically continue in a regular manner, but the government will take Beijing's Anti-Secession Law into account when considering new measures regarding cross-strait exchanges, he added.

    He also said that the government wants to forge national consensus on a resumption of cross-strait dialogue.

    Another KMT legislator, Kuo Su-chun, said that the Canton Fair in Guangzhou will be staged in mid-April, with five pavilions featuring Taiwan agricultural products.

    In addition to exempting Taiwan agricultural products from a 17 percent value-added tax, Guangzhou will also facilitate customs clearance, Kuo noted, saying that the government should support the participation of Taiwan agricultural products in the fair.

    Chen Chieh, KMT caucus whip, claimed that the COA has not only not been supportive of this, it has even boycotted such a move.

    COA Vice Chairman Lee Chien-chuan explained that China imposes tariffs of up to 16 percent on agricultural products, and that on top of this, it imposes a 17 percent value-added tax, making it difficult to export such products to China. In addition, China only allows 12 kinds of agricultural products in after quarantine, and its custom clearance is too slow, he continued.

    The private sector on both sides of the Taiwan Strait can consult and communicate on the long custom clearance period, but the issues of tariffs and quarantine will have to be left for the governments of the two sides to discuss, Lee said.

    He explained that the government will not take the initiative to support Taiwan's agricultural products to be exported to the mainland and that it has not blocked Taiwan agricultural products from taking part in the Canton Fair. The government just doesn't have the budget to support the marketing activity, he said.

    He added that the custom clearance facilitation will only be temporary, and that a continuation of such incentives after the fair is more important, which he said will require talks between the two governments.

(By Lilian Wu)


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