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President Chen Receives Foreign Scholars

Taipei, Jan. 16 (CNA) Republic of China President Chen Shui-bian said Tuesday that the ROC government hopes Beijing will reopen bilateral dialogue as soon as possible.

He made the remarks while receiving four foreign experts--Martin Edmonds, Tony Mason, Damon Bristow and Denny Roy--to a symposium on Taiwan's national defense policy and military strategy.

Chen told his visitors that the recent "mini three direct links" between Taiwan's offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu and the mainland Chinese ports of Xiamen and Mawei show Taiwan's goodwill and are a step toward considering implementation of the "big three direct links"--postal, trade and transport--across the Taiwan Strait.

However, he continued, "we still hope that cross-strait negotiations will be resumed as soon as possible." Chen stressed that the "one China" stance insisted upon by Beijing is not a question in accordance with the ROC Constitution, but he expressed the hope that Beijing will understand the apprehension in the hearts of the people of Taiwan and respect the will of the 23 million residents of Taiwan.

He noted that he indicated in his inauguration speech of May 20 last year that as the president of the country, he has a responsibility and an obligation to safeguard the country's sovereignty, dignity and security, as well as the people's welfare.

He pointed out that the existence of the ROC armed forces is not aimed at launching a war, but for the sake of upholding peace across the Taiwan Strait and to assure Taiwan's security and everlasting economic and trade development.

The president said that the goal of Taiwan's defense strategy is "effective deterrence and steadfast defense." Regarding the government's "go slow, be patient" policy in dealing with economic and trade ties with the mainland, Chen said that his government will inject a "global market consideration" into the policy formulated by the previous Kuomintang government.

As a result, he went on, "positive opening of exchanges and effective monitoring" will be the basis for promoting future economic and trade relations with mainland China, while placing the emphasis on the development of knowledge-based economy.

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