BEIJING (AP) _ In China’s first response to Taiwan’s decision to expand commercial ties with the mainland, a state newspaper on Wednesday criticized the move for failing to address the question of a political unification of the two sides.
The China Daily said President Chen Shui-bian’s decision Sunday to ease limits on investment in the mainland included ``positive changes.″
But it criticized Chen for failing to accede to Beijng’s demand that he declare Taiwan and the mainland one country. Beijing calls that the ``one-China principle.″
The two territories have been ruled separately since 1949. Beijing claims the island as its own, and has threatened to use force to capture it.
Taiwanese companies have invested about $60 billion in China since the island’s leaders in the early 1990s eased a ban meant to shield Taiwan against economic domination by its giant neighbor.
Hurt by high costs and a slowing economy at home, many Taiwanese companies are eager for better access to China’s cheaper labor and huge market.
Chinese officials who deal with Taiwan have remained silent on Chen’s endorsement Sunday of a recommendation by a panel of experts to raise limits on investments. He said the change could lead to a boom in high-tech cooperation.
Nevertheless, said the China Daily, ``It will be impossible to fix the crumbling (Taiwanese) economy without addressing key political issues such as the one-China policy.″
Taiwan’s former Nationalist government agreed in 1992 to declare the two sides one country. But Chen, a former opposition figure elected last year, has resisted endorsing that, for fear it would increase Beijing’s influence.
Reaction in Taiwan to the policy change has been mixed. Businesses have endorsed it, while labor leaders fear a loss of jobs and some politicians warn against becoming tied too closely to the communist mainland.