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On Taiwan Issue after Return of Hong Kong

Vice-Premier and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen said in Beijing on March 3 that the return of Hong Kong will exert a major influence on relations across the Taiwan Strait.

During a discussion in Beijing with Taiwan deputies to the National People's Congress, Qian said that the issue of Taiwan's peaceful reunification with the motherland will become more prominent after Hong Kong, and then Macao, return to the embrace of the motherland.

The Chinese government will unswervingly adhere to the principles of "one country, two systems" and peaceful reunification in pushing ahead with the cause of reunification of the motherland, he said.

He noted that Hong Kong and Taiwan have close ties in exchange of visits, economic cooperation and trade, and cultural exchanges, and many Taiwan compatriots come back to the mainland of the motherland for tourism, visit of relatives, investment, and trade via Hong Kong.

"Therefore, the return of Hong Kong to the motherland will surely exert a great influence on the relations between two sides of the Strait," he said.

After China resumes the exercise of its sovereignty over Hong Kong, he added, the central government will stick to the principles of "one country, two systems" and "Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong" and "high degree of autonomy."

"Following its return, Hong Kong will retain its social system and lifestyle, and maintain its role as an international center of finance, trade and transportation, thus ensuring a long-term prosperity and stability," he said.

During the past ten years, he said, great changes have taken place in relations across the Straits, with a total of more than 10 million people from Taiwan visiting the mainland.

In 1996 alone, 1.72 million Taiwan compatriots visited the mainland, he noted.

"Since the past decade has witnessed such magnificent changes, we have every reason to believe that the next decade will bear witness to even greater progress," Qian predicted.

Speaking of the issue of "international living space," he said that Taiwan enjoys a vast space for non-governmental exchanges in economy, trade, and culture, since it has joined in many non-governmental international organizations, and scored a fairly large non-governmental trade volume.

However, he said, "it won't be permitted if Taiwan attempts to separate from the motherland as an independent sovereign state by seeking diplomatic living space."

He expressed the conviction that with China's ever growing economic strength, rising international status, and with expanding exchanges between the Strait, the great cause of peaceful reunification of the motherland will surely be accomplished.

Qian also listened carefully to discussions and suggestions of the Taiwan deputies by origin, which covered a wide range of topics.

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