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Mainland urges early release of fishermen detained by Taiwan

BEIJING, March 29 -- A Chinese mainland spokesperson Wednesday called on Taiwan to release several detained fishermen and their boat as soon as possible.

Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson with the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, made the remarks at a press conference in response to reports that Taiwan authorities had detained 20 mainland fishermen on "illegal trespass" charges in waters around Dongsha Islands.

"The mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits immediately contacted relevant groups in Taiwan to acquire information, express concerns and conduct negotiations," Ma said.

The spokesperson called on the Taiwan side to respect that fishermen from both sides of the Strait, including those from Hong Kong and Macao, had long been fishing in the area.

"The Taiwan side should stop the improper treatment of the fishermen and protect their lives and property," Ma said.

Ma also voiced opposition to acts that undermined the basis of cross-Strait talks and hindered development of cross-Strait ties.

"To restrain cross-Strait exchanges with political means and put pressure on people in the island who are promoting such exchanges runs against the will of compatriots on both sides and will not be supported by the public," he said.

Ma said that a ceremony next month would be held on the mainland to pay homage to Huangdi, a legendary ruler of the Chinese nation. More than 200 people from Taiwan, including Kuomintang Vice Chairman Chen Chen-hsiang and New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming as well as grassroots people and young students from Taiwan, will attend.