Wed, Jan 31, 2001 - Page 17 News List

MAC warns Kinmen to stay in line

CROSS-STRAIT TIES After a Matsu lawmaker took it upon himself to ink an agreement with China without higher approval, MAC officials warned Kinmen authorities against doing the same

By Richard Dobson  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Mainland Affairs Council (陸委會) yesterday warned Kinmen officials not to follow the example of their colleagues on Matsu and sign agreements on cross-strait ties with Chinese authorities without central government approval.

Chen Ming-tung (陳明通), vice chairman of the council, told Kinmen officials at a meeting of the "small three links" (小三通) coordination task force that "City and county officials are authorized only to handle local affairs ... matters related to China belong to the central government."

"Local officials don't make policy, we do. They just carry it out," Chen said.

Authorities on Taiwan's outlying islands are permitted to communicate independently with their counterparts across the Strait, but they must seek central government approval before inking any official agreement pertaining to implementation of the small three links plan, Chen said.

Chen's warning came one day after the council clarified that an agreement signed on Sunday by Matsu lawmaker Tsao Erh-chung (曹爾忠) and Chinese authorities in Mawei was "unauthorized and had no legal bearing," describing it instead as simply a "person-to-person exchange."

The council's warning effectively deflated any hopes local officials may have had about striking out on their own to facilitate the smooth implementation of ties.

Local officials have been frustrated by the slow pace of the development of ties and reluctance of the Chinese to embrace the opening of the trade, transport and communications links between Kinmen and Matsu and ports along the Chinese coast on Jan. 1.

According to Liu Li-chun (劉立群), magistrate of Lian Chiang County (連江縣) -- the official title for the Matsu archipelago -- the discussions in Mawei were only intended to hash out the details of implementing the plan with the Chinese and were never considered official.

"Now that the small three links plan is in place, we must take action to work out the handling of the general day-to-day implementation of the policy," Liu said.

"The agreement focuses on general affairs such as fishing, tourism, cultural exchanges and trade which is permitted under the guidelines for implementation of the links plan ... there was no talk of sensitive policy or political issues," he added.

However, Chen said the council is currently investigating whether any of the Lian Chiang County officials present at the signing ceremony in China overstepped their authority and would consider disciplinary action if necessary.

Chen stressed that official negotiations and agreements with Chinese officials regarding the links plan must be done by the central government and until any such agreements are reached, the local authorities must first receive approval.

"Communication is necessary at some point to the success of the small links plan," Chen said. "But local authorities must wait until the central government has reached some kind of agreement with the Chinese before they can consider making their own."

According to Chen, Kinmen County magistrate Chen Shui-tsai (陳水在) assured him there would be no repeat of the Matsu-Mawei agreement by Kinmen authorities.

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