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No cross-strait political breakthrough is forthcoming: Premier

ROC Central News Agency

2010/01/11 22:12:16

Taipei, Jan. 11 (CNA) Relations across the Taiwan Strait cannot see any major political breakthrough in the foreseeable future, but there is room for innovative interaction, Premier Wu Den-yih said Monday.

In a conversation with visiting New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, Wu said that as the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have been separately ruled for six decades, time is needed for them to forge mutual goodwill and trust.

"Culturally, our two sides are inseparable, but obstacles still stand on the political front," Wu told his guest. "The two sides need to set long-term goals and patiently accumulate friendship and trust to pave the way for a breakthrough in bilateral political ties." At present, Wu said, China probably looks forward to an early start of political talks as their leaders hope to leave memorable legacies or achievements before their five-year tenure expires.

"However, the time is not yet ripe for cross-strait talks on any sensitive political issues because our people reamin divided on those issues, " Wu said, adding that Taiwan needs time to forge an internal consensus on cross-strait political disputes.

A common wish of local people for the moment is to see Taiwan admitted to non-political international organizations, Wu said.

"Regrettably, our such wishes have consistently encountered obstruction from China," the premier added regretfully.

For his part, Friedman said that when he visited Taiwan for the first time 13 years ago, Taiwan was seen one of the world's most dangerous flash points.

But now, Friedman sid, the situation has changed significantly.

Noting that all such changes took place quietly, Friedman said many other countries should learn from Taiwan. He believes the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize should not have been presented to U.S. President Barack Obama and should have instead been given to the people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

The prominent author lauded both sides for their achievements in forging so many engagements without shuttle diplomacy or U.S.

involvement, saying all those efforts are the best ways to create lasting peace.

In response, Wu said, all such changes have become possible mainly because of changes or innovations in thinking.

"Many things should not be confined to a polarized 'either black or white' dead end because there is ample room in between for creative thinking and experimentation," Wu explained.

Over the past two decades, he said, Taiwan has lost some critical opportunities for to better itself and improve cross-strait relations because of social divisions and political infighting.

"But anyway, we have come a long way to maintain cross-strait peace. Today, about 67,000 Taiwanese students are either studying in China or have graduated from Chinese schools, " Wu said. Also, Taiwanese businessmen have poured more than US$200 billion into various investment projects in China since 1987, contributing much to China's economic development.

Friedman, the author of the best-sellers "The World is Flat" and " Hot, Flat, Crowded, "is currently visiting Taipei at the invitation of CommonWealth Magazine group. He delivered as peech at the Presidential Office and met with President Ma Ying-jeou earlier in the day.

(By Lee Ming-chung and Sofia Wu) enditem/ls

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