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Vice President Lu Meets with Mr. Wei Jingsheng

Taipei, Mar. 7 (CNA) Vice President Annette Lu told a mainland Chinese democracy activist Wednesday that relations between Taiwan and the mainland can be described as those of "distant relatives and close neighbors."

During a meeting with exiled mainland dissident Wei Jingsheng, Lu said that the description is apt because the Taiwanese people originally came from the mainland, and the two nations are geographically close to each other.

She said that many of Taiwan's politicians and businessmen are visiting the mainland "out of curiosity" after years of being told to be anti-Communists. Only when they begin to run into problems in the mainland are they now returning to Taiwan, she added.

Regarding Beijing's refusal to deal with Lu's ruling Democratic Progressive Party and instead courting the opposition parties, Wei said that mainland Chinese manipulation of Taiwan's interparty relations is dangerous.

Wei said that Taiwan's political parties should not use their individual relations with the mainland as a way to improve their domestic political positions. Instead, he recommended that the parties should establish an interparty coordination mechanism and face the mainland "as a family," with President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Lu leading the way by giving them "a direction and some principles."

Wei noted that mainland China is currently facing economic and unemployment problems, which are leading to internal insecurity and divisiveness. Dealing with Taiwan can sometimes divert the mainland public's attention from economic woes there, he said.

Opening up direct trade, postal and shipping links between Taiwan's frontline islands and designated mainland ports in January as well as plans to open up Taiwan-proper to mainland tourists later this year will let the mainland public see for themselves what Taiwan is like, he added.

However, he warned that further plans to establish direct links between Taiwan-proper and the mainland should be conducted on a basis of parity and should be mutually beneficial.

Speaking of the 18 years he spent in mainland jails before being released and banished in 1998, Wei said that "democracy comes at a price," and that he wanted to tell Taiwan's youth that they are only now at the start of the road to democracy.


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