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Stability And Reciprocity-Republic of China's Stance Toward Macao 1999


ROC Pleased to See the Return of Macao

The ROC government is pleased to see an end of more than 400 years of Portuguese rule in Macao on December 20 this year. But we deeply regret for the transfer of jurisdiction of Macao to the autocracy of the Chinese mainland. We reiterates our decision to safeguard the rights and welfare of the people of, and to continue various exchanges with, the city of Macao. We hope that Macao will continue to develop, and that the PRC will abide by its promises to the people of Macao.

Legislation and Implementation

After December 20, 1999, how we handle our interactions with Macao shall be governed by the tatute Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macao? promulgated by President Lee Teng-hui in April 1997, and related regulations. The laws and regulations concerning Macao will come into effect on December 20, 1999. The Macao Affairs Office under the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) will be established on the same date, to handle all matters concerning Macao as well as to strengthen liaison with the Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR).

Question on Attending the Hand-Over Ceremony

The question on whether and how our people attend the hand-over ceremony in Macao will be handled on the basis of dignity and pragmatism. Our people overseas will neither voluntarily join in, nor deliberately boycott, celebration activities held in Macao or other overseas areas in this regard.

The Route to Unification

The ne country, two systems?as applied to Hong Kong and Macao may be considered progress against the background of one-party dictatorship on the Mainland. But it would definitely be regression if forcibly applied to Taiwan, which is already a full-fledged democracy. Only when the Mainland adopts the system where democracy, freedom, and equitable prosperity are available to all, will unification of the two sides across the Taiwan Strait accur.

I. ROC Pleased to See the Return of Macao

After more than 400 years of Portuguese rule, Macao will be returned to the Chinese rule on December 20, 1999. The ROC government is pleased to see the return of Macao. But we deeply regret for the transfer of jurisdiction of Macao to the autocracy of the Chinese mainland. We hopes that Macao would continue to develop in a stable environment, and that the PRC government would abide by its promise of  Macao ruled by its own people?and given a igh degree of autonomy?so that Macao could grow more prosperous and progressive.

We have followed a policy of eciprocity, pragmatism and dignity?in its relations with Macao. We will continue to protect the welfare of the people there through strengthening mutual exchanges and economic development. Any undue restriction or intervention will be harmful to interactions between the two sides.

II. Current Taiwan-Macao Bilateral Relations

While most countries designate their consulates in Hong Kong to handle also the Macao, affairs, the ROC government set up the aipei Trade and Tourism Office?in Macao, the only non-Portuguese office there, contributing significantly to the development of civilian contacts between the two sides.

In the last ten years, some 6,000 students from Macao have come to study in Taiwan, while more than 30,000 Macao residents have worked here-this makes up 7﹪of the total 430,000 population of Macao. Air links between the two places began in 1995, making Macao the second mid-way stop for travelers between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, next only to Hong Kong.

Macao offers two distinct benefits for such travelers: no visa is required for layovers there, while those who travel onward need not change aircraft in Macao but continue straight to the final destination in Mainland China. In 1997, more than 900,000 travelers took advantage of these arrangements. Poor publicity due to law and order problems in Macao dented the figure slightly in 1998, down to 820,000 passengers. An astonishing percentage of 54.77% of all travelers arriving in Macao came from Taiwan in 1998.

In addition to the Taipei International Commercial Bank, Eva Airlines and Transasia Airways, many Taiwanese businesses have set up offices in the city. Macao has also acted as a magnet for Taiwanese investment in Mainland areas surrounding Macao. There are 315 Taiwanese factories and companies who have invested in Zhuhai, and another 400 in Zhongshan and nearby counties.

Trade between Taiwan and Macao was only US$97 million in 1992, but rose to US$360 million in 1998. While heavily lopsided in trade, since Taiwan exports to Macao came to US$319 million and imports were only US$41 million, Taiwan is still the fourth largest trading partner of Macao in Asia.

These figures speak for themselves, and explain the need for continuous growth in all fields of relations between Taiwan and Macao.

III. Framework for Stable and Reciprocal Taiwan-Macao Relations

While relations between Taiwan and Macao do not attract as much attention as those between Taiwan and Hong Kong, both places have maintained good interactions to their mutual benefit in the past. It is desirable for them to build upon this solid foundation, work out a new framework of relations, and move forward after 1999 on the basis of Macao unique position both in cross-strait relations and in East-West cultural exchanges.

In preparation for the change in Macao status, the ROC government has adopted the following measures:

Legislation and Implementation

With Portuguese rule coming to an end, Macao now becomes a special administrative region of the Mainland. In order to maintain and further develop exchange in all fields with Macao, the Statute Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macao, enacted by the Legislative Yuan and promulgated by President Lee in April 1997, will be the legal basis for all dealings with Macao. Those parts in this Statute concerning Macao, and all related regulations and measures dealing with Macao issued by various government agencies, become effective on December 20, 1999.

The spirit of these laws and regulations is that hereinafter all exchanges between Taiwan and Macao shall basically follow the pattern of previous years without undue interference. These include such matters as entry and exit permits, air and shipping links, residency permits for study or business purposes, as well as trade and investment relations.

At present, quite a number of Macao residents work in Taiwan. Under the Statute cited above, they should apply for work permits prior to arrival, or risk being deported back to Macao.

The Macao Affairs Office

The Macao Affairs Office under the Mainland Affairs Council will come into being on December 20, 1999. It will have three sections, dealing with such functions as notarization and certification, travel documents, trade, economic and investment relations, and cultural and educational exchange. The Office will continue to promote closer exchanges and serve the need of people on both areas.

Strengthening of Service

Starting from July 1999, Mainland residents can pick up entry permits to Taiwan either in Macao, or in Hong Kong. This option offers convenience for Mainland residents. We hope that the Macao Affairs Office would be able to provide more convenient and efficient service to Mainland residents, and that Macao could live up to its role as the intermediary in contacts between peoples across the Taiwan Strait.

Strengthening Contact between Two Sides

There has always been direct contact between the Taipei Trade and Tourism Office and the government of Macao. Although Macao status will be different after 1999, there is no reason that the channel and method of communication need to be downgraded when Portuguese rule ends. The substantive and mutually beneficial relations between the two are too important to be affected by other considerations.

Promoting Exchanges and Visits

We hope that after its reversion to the Chinese people, Macao can play an even more important role in cross-strait relations. Substantive relations between Taiwan and Macao should grow even closer in all fields through increased exchange of visits and cooperation.

IV. Question on Attending the Hand-Over Ceremony

From the experience of Hong Kong handover in July 1997, we expect that various celebration activities will be held not only in Macao by the MSAR government, but also in many overseas areas and the Mainland itself.

The key to the question on whether our people should attend these ceremonies and festivities lies in whether they will be treated with respect and dignity. It is unavoidable that such attendance carries with it political implications. While there is no need to boycott them on purpose, there is also no need to join in voluntarily. If invited, our people may attend to celebrate the return of Macao to the Chinese people as a whole.

V. Mainland Democratization and National Unification

One Country, Two Systems? is not applicable to Taiwan

If one takes a pause to consider it semantically, the phrase ne country, two systems?contradicts itself, implies a transitory state of affairs, and hides the coercive intent of the Mainland authorities.

In logic, the two parts of this one phrase, ne country?and wo systems? contradict each other. In process, there can be no doubt that after the 50-year interval, the two systems would only move towards the socialist system of one-party dictatorship. And in practice, it is abundantly clear that the Mainland would be calling the shots, while the other party could never enjoy equal status in discussing the future of the nation.

The simple fact is that no matter how ne country, two systems?fares in Hong Kong and Macao, it is not applicable to Taiwan. What the ROC wants is ne country with a good system?for all. Rather than trying to sell this slogan which holds no attraction for the people on Taiwan, the Mainland would do better by pushing forth democratization and reforms politically, socially and economically. When democracy, freedom, and equitable prosperity in a genuinely free-market economy become the reality on the Mainland, unification across the Taiwan Strait will naturally follow.

When compared to the one-party dictatorship on the Mainland, the ne country, two systems?arrangement offered to Hong Kong and Macao may be considered some kind of improvement . It would, however, become a move backward if forcibly applied to Taiwan, which already enjoys full democracy. We sincerely hope that the Mainland authorities would honor their pledge of  Macao ruled by its own people?and with  high degree of autonomy?

Furthermore, we hope that the Mainland would adopt a pragmatic attitude, and pursue experiments in democracy and the rule of law in the new MSAR.

Democratization of Mainland China Facilitates the Unification across the Strait

Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macua all enjoy high degree of liberty which hold great expectation toward freedom and democracy. We anxiously hope that the Mainland authority would accept a democratized China as the premise for unification, so that the people on the Mainland can enjoy the same freedom and democracy. Unification without the foundation of democracy will only be fragile and impractical. The ROC government will proceed with the issue of unification based on the three stages mapped out in the Guidelines for National Unification. A consensus of democracy, freedom and equitable prosperity will herald the unification across the Taiwan Strait .