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Chang case may affect cross-strait talks: MAC

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday said the alleged leaking of confidential information involving its former principal deputy minister Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀) may affect the progress of cross-strait negotiations, but considering the nation's long-term development, the MAC “still has to face the issue.”

A source in the MAC yesterday was quoted by the Central News Agency (CNA) as saying that the delayed negotiation of the Cross-Strait Trade in Goods and Services Agreement was not affected by the recent turmoil raised by Chang, who previously doubled as Straits Exchange Foundation vice chairman and secretary-general.

The trade in goods pact was previously scheduled to be discussed at the end of August; however, after Chang's “forced” resignation drew the media's attention, Taiwan was informed by mainland China that negotiations will be delayed until September.

Many have speculated that the Investigation Bureau has withheld evidence of Chang allegedly leaking confidential information to China's higher-ranking officials. The MAC source said that, as the case has been transferred to the Taipei District Prosecutors Office (TDPO) for further investigation, the MAC hopes the public will stop speculating about the case.

The source further commented on the potential impact of Chang's case, saying that the incident would “definitely” impact the negotiators on both sides of the strait as well as affect cross-strait negotiations. However, considering the importance of these effects to Taiwan's future development, the government still has to handle the incident despite the potential impact, the source said.

After the MAC said Chang would be investigated for work-related affairs, the Investigation Bureau was quoted by several media outlets as saying that Chang may have committed the crime of treason, which suggests that he may be a spy.

The bureau yesterday denied the reports by saying that it has never released any press statements regarding Chang's incident, nor has it ever used the term “Chinese spy” to describe Chang.

Chang recently said that he will have his lawyer arrange an interview with Taipei prosecutors at the TDPO office today and tell them all he knows about the allegations against him.

In response, the TDPO said that as of yesterday it still has not heard from the former MAC deputy minister about the potential interview. The TDPO acting spokesman Chang Chieh-chin (張介欽) said his office will respect Chang Hsien-yao's rights if he would like to explain the allegations to prosecutors.

As many have speculated that the report the MAC filed against Chang was handled by a person politically close to the United States, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) yesterday denied the rumor. The AIT was quoted by Apple Daily as saying that “we are not aware of any U.S. involvement in the case.”

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Chang Hsien-yao, former deputy minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, listens during a press conference in Taipei on Thursday, Aug. 21. (AFP)

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