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'Orientation' key to Pingtan issue: SEF official

2012/03/20 22:13:01

Taipei, March 20 (CNA) The Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) took issue Tuesday with a local media report that said Taiwan and China lack communication over a special development zone in China, saying that "the key point is not communication but orientation."

SEF Deputy Secretary-General Ma Shaw-chang said the SEF hopes that China's experimental development zone on the island of Pingtan off the coast of Fujian Province is purely economy-oriented rather than politics-oriented.

His remark echoed a statement by SEF Vice Chairman Kao Koong-lian, who said prior to a visit to Fujian that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait should "focus more on economics and less on politics."

Kao and his delegation returned to Taiwan late Tuesday from a visit to Fuzhou, Putian, Sanming, Quanzhou, Zhangzhou and Xiamen, as well as the Pingtan zone.

The SEF is a Taipei-based quasi-official body authorized to handle cross-strait negotiations in the absence of formal diplomatic relations.

Meanwhile, China's Taiwan Affairs Office Director Wang Yi denied speculation that China sees Pingtan as a test zone for using its "one country, two systems" formula with Taiwan in pushing for unification between the two sides.

The formula is used by Beijing to rule Hong Kong and Macau, but it has always been rejected by Taipei.

"We've never entertained such thoughts," Wang said.

Although he said Pingtan is supposed to serve as a "joint homeland for people on both sides of the strait," Wang insisted there are no political motivations involved.

He said that Pingtan is geographically very close to Taiwan and the Chinese government hopes to establish a more comfortable environment, more convenient transportation and looser business policies for Taiwanese people through the experimental zone.

But he said the zone is not "a joint project between the cross-strait authorities."

In response, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Deputy Minister Liu Te-shun said discussions between the two sides should therefore be led back to purely economic issues to "build a good investment environment."

(By Chai Ssu-chia, Lawrence Chiu, Cheng Chung-sheng and Jamie Wang)