China is attempting to trap Taiwan into accepting its "one China" policy by asking Taiwanese banks to sign cross-strait remittance agreements that include this policy, a top financial official said yesterday.
"We've banned Taiwanese banks from signing agreements with Bank of China (中國銀行) because the bank includes the `one China' principle in its agreements," Vice Minister of Finance Susan Chang (張秀蓮) said yesterday at a press conference.
Several Taiwanese banks received notices from China's state-run Bank of China on Monday, which required them to sign agreements on cross-strait transactions that are channeled via offshore banking units (OBU), Chang said.
However, these agreements seem to suggest that Taiwanese banks are endorsing China's perception of Taiwan as a renegade province, Chang said.
"It's a highly inappropriate and politicized move. And such petty maneuvering is actually unnecessary, ruining a business exchange that could have been simple and smooth," the vice minister said.
Chang then accused Beijing of also bringing politics into the issue of cross-strait commercial links -- which the local business community is preparing for.
However, a spokesman of the People's Bank of China (中國人民銀行), which serves as that country's central bank, yesterday told reporters that he has no information about the "one-China" requirement being attached to the cross-strait remittance agreements.
Politics have long hindered trade and financial ties between both sides of the Taiwan Strait, but Chang argued that it is China's actions that are creating obstacles to cross-strait trade normalization.
"China has to be responsible for any possible negative impact that this may have," said Chang.
According to Chang, other major mainland banks, including the Commercial Bank of China (中國工商銀行), the China Construction Bank (中國建設銀行) and the Agricultural Bank of China (中國農業銀行) have not yet proposed the same controversial requests.
The Ministry of Finance will pay close attention to avoid similar actions being repeated, she said. "Our bottom line is that political issues should not get involved [in electronic money transfers]."
Taiwan had previously approved OBUs of 15 major Taiwanese banks and 12 foreign banks to conduct direct transactions with Chinese banks, starting in March. It took China five months to evaluate the issue before giving the final go-ahead last Friday.
Minister of Finance Lee Yung-san (李庸三) on Monday welcomed China's goodwill gesture of opening cross-strait capital transfers, and all local banks claimed that they were ready and expected to launch the services very soon.