Taiwan says many people don't want closer China trade ties

 
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TAIPEI, Jan 1 (Reuters) Nearly 60 percent of Taiwan people do not want to see closer economic or trade ties with China, Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian said on Monday.

Some 56.7 per cent of the public did not want the closer ties, while 49.7 percent wanted the government to take a more strict stance on Taiwan investments in China, the President said in his New Year's speech, citing a survey done at end of December.

''These figures show it is in line with expectations of the majority of people that the government insists on its cross-strait policy,'' according to a statement from the Presidential Office.

China sees Taiwan, which has been self-ruled since it split from the mainland at the end of a civil war in 1949, as part of its territory. Beijing has threatened to retake the island by force if it declares independence.

But Taiwan companies, including food conglomerate Uni-President Enterprise Corp. <1216.TW>, have poured more than 100 billion US dollars into China since the late 1980s to take advantage of the fast-growing Chinese market.

To avoid over-reliance on the Chinese market, the Taiwan government allows companies to invest only up to 40 per cent of their net worth in China.

Taiwan government has no plan to revise the cap, even though businesses have been increasingly pressing for a higher limit to expand operations and sales outside their largely saturated home market.

In December, a government-sponsored survey showed that one-third of Taiwan's people want independence from China, while nearly half prefer either the status quo of defacto self-rule or a return to China.

REUTERS AKJ BD0956

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