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June 22, 2017

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No plans to reinstate NUC: presidential spokesman

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Presidential Office officials yesterday dismissed a report that President Ma Ying-jeou plans to reinstate a council which recommended policies on reunification with China, despite a recent thaw in cross-strait relations.

President Ma has no plans to reinstate the National Unification Council (NUC) that was abolished by former President Chen Shui-bian, Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi said. Wang was responding to a media report that the Ma administration is studying the feasibility of reactivating the NUC to deepen exchanges between Taiwan and China. According to the Liberty Times report, without providing sources, said Sunday that the China-friendly Ma administration was mulling restoring the council to help facilitate cross-strait exchanges between the rivals.

The Ma administration is scheduled to make the announcement in mid-August and does not rule out the possibility of earmarking funds next year to facilitate the resumption of NUC operations.

Dismissing the report as inaccurate, Wang reiterated President Ma's "three noes" policy — "no unification, no independence and no use of force" — and stressed that Ma has no intention to reinstate the NUC. "There is not any change. We've no plan to reinstate the council," Wang said. Wang however rejected the report as a "rumor". The NUC, set up in 1990 by the Kuomintang government, was scrapped in 2006 by then President Chen Shui-bian of the pro independence Democratic Progressive Party.

The council was considered largely symbolic and had been dormant since Chen was elected in 2000 but his decision infuriated Beijing, which regards the island as part of its territory. The move also drew serious concerns from Washington.

Chen had defended his decision, saying it was prompted by Beijing's persistent military threat and its attempts to use non-peaceful means to unilaterally change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.

During the run up to the March 22 presidential polls, the Hong Kong-born Ma had repeatedly assured voters that he would safeguard the status quo across the Taiwan Strait.

China has regarded Taiwan as part of its territory since their split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

Cross-strait ties have improved since Ma took office on May 20, pledging to improve relations with China that had hit a nadir while the island was under the rule of the former DPP government.

The most visible sign yet in the thaw came Friday when more than 700 Chinese holidaymakers flew to the island on the first direct regular charter flights in nearly six decades.

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