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Business group urges Lai to show 'flexibility' on cross-strait issues

05/20/2024 10:10 PM
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CNA photo May 20, 2024
CNA photo May 20, 2024

Taipei, May 20 (CNA) The head of the Taipei-based General Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of China (ROCCOC) has urged newly-inaugurated President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) to have both principles and "flexibility" as he navigates relations with China over the next four years.

In a statement issued Monday, ROCCOC Chairman Hsu Shu-po (許舒博) said the portions of Lai's inaugural address covering cross-Taiwan Strait relations were "slightly hard-edged."

In dealing with cross-strait matters, Hsu said Lai should try to have both "principles and flexibility."

"If you have principles but not flexibility, in the end the two sides will butt heads, and there won't be any progress," he said.

Cross-strait relations are closely connected to the development of people-to-people and economic exchanges, but given the current tensions, any talk of an opening between the sides is just "hot air," Hsu said.

Hsu said that while Lai's inaugural address would not improve cross-strait relations, he hoped that, given the current state of geopolitics, the government will take substantive steps to do so in the future.

In contrast, Lai Cheng-yi (賴正鎰), an honorary chairman of the ROCCOC, said he was "glad to see that President Lai showed goodwill" to Beijing in the speech.

In particular, Lai Cheng-yi praised as "helpful" the president's suggestion that the two sides resume tourism on a reciprocal basis, and allow the enrollment of Chinese degree students at Taiwanese educational institutions.

During his inaugural speech Monday, Lai called on Beijing to recognize the existence of the Republic of China (Taiwan's formal name) and engage in cooperation with the government legally chosen by Taiwan's people.

At the same time, Lai pledged that his government will "neither yield nor provoke" on cross-strait issues, and would seek to maintain the status quo, while looking for opportunities for dialogue on the basis of parity and dignity.

Following the inauguration, Chen Binhua (陳斌華), a spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, accused Lai of using the speech to "stubbornly insist on the position of Taiwanese independence."

(By Liu Chien-ling, Lai Yen-hsi and Matthew Mazzetta)

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