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Ma seeks more cross-strait talks

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou said that a systemized communication channel between Taipei and China has been established following the resumption of talks between Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and its Chinese counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), and therefore both sides can move to engage in talks on various issues via several negotiation delegations simultaneously.

Ma made the remarks when receiving Chairman P.K. Chiang of the SEF and other members of a Chiang-headed delegation, who just returned to Taiwan yesterday afternoon after signing historical pacts in Beijing with his Chinese counterpart Chairman Chen Yunlin of the ARATS on Friday to launch weekend direct charter flights and boost tourism.

Receiving Chiang and his delegation at the Presidential Office in the company of Vice President Vincent Siew and Premier Liu Chao-shiuan, Ma said that through the systemized channel of communications, both sides can send different levels of representatives to negotiate on different issues, depending on the importance of the issues.

The president said that there are too many issues for both sides to discuss, and “I’m just afraid we can hardly meet the expectations of nationals.”

In terms of new direct flight routes, for instance, most people not only hope for direct flights, but also for the shortest routes available. “To achieve this, both sides should not only intensively negotiate on the issue, but should also tackle many problems before the new direct flight routes across the Taiwan Strait can be officially publicized for commercialization,” Ma continued.

Ma said he will instruct the Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) to let the public know the progress of the negotiations and the problems lying ahead.

While meeting Chiang at the airport, Lai Shin-yuan, chairwoman of the Mainland Affairs Council, said “Chiang met the people’s expectations to successfully accomplish the tasks and open a new page for positive cross-strait exchanges.”

Upon returning to the Taoyuan International Airport, Chiang also told reporters that he hoped the agreements signed would help boost cross-strait ties.

The agreements are part of a rapprochement triggered by the election of the Kuomintang party’s Ma Ying-jeou as Taiwan’s president in March.

Ma rose to power on a platform of building closer trade and political ties with China, in contrast to his predecessor Chen Shui-bian, who deeply angered Beijing with his efforts to steer the island towards independence.

The talks in Beijing this week were the first direct dialogue between the two sides in a decade since China suspended the process amid acrimony over sovereignty.

Also yesterday, Vice Chairman Kao Kung-lian of the SEF told reporters aboard a Taipei-bound plane from Hong Kong that negotiations on cross-strait charter cargo flights would be kicked off in July or August rather than after the end of the Beijing Olympics.

Kao said after both sides have signed pacts on weekend charter flights across the Taiwan Straits and on entry of mainland Chinese tourists into Taiwan, the top priority topic to be discussed will be the charter cargo flights.

Both sides have agreed to discuss within three months on the charter cargo flights and expansion of the weekend charter flights for passengers.

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 Ma seeks more  cross-strait talks 
Chairman P.K. Chiang of the Straits Exchange Foundation, left, displays the agreements made with his Chinese counterpart together with President Ma Ying-jeou at the Presidential Office in Taipei yesterday. On the occasion, Ma expressed the hope that both sides can engage in multi-pronged talks simultaneously.(CNA)

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