Sun, Dec 05, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Cross-strait talks need academics: MAC

BRAVE PROPOSAL The MAC proposed yesterday that Taiwan and China station their own academics on either side of the Strait to serve as a conduit for communication


The nation's top cross-strait policymaking body proposed new measures for the dissolution of misunderstandings, saying both governments should station an academic on the other side of the Taiwan Strait to serve as a conduit for communication.

"This proposal has potential because it is not politically charged and both academic circles are already familiar with each other. However, if China is unwilling to see this through, it will be hard for us to implement measures," Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said in a speech yesterday at a closed-door forum on ties with Japan.

"President Chen Shui-bian [陳水扁] called for the exchange of envoys between Taiwan and China on Feb. 3, but such a move would be difficult without a major breakthrough in cross-strait ties," Wu said, pointing out that stationing an academic representative in China was more feasible.

Dubbed the "Academic Confidence Building Measures," the proposal recommends that China and Taiwan swap government-appointed scholars for indefinite periods of time. Wu said authorities can increase the number of appointed academics after a designated amount of time, suggesting two to three years as a good time-frame.

According to Wu, the scholars would have to be recognized by both governments, be allowed to conduct visits for research purposes and be guaranteed access to public academic conferences. He also said that the appointed academics should be given a certain amount of diplomatic treatment.

Wu shared his recommendation yesterday with a group of high-level officials, including National Security Council Secretary-General Chiou I-jen (邱義仁).

"Cross-strait communication is too disorderly right now and authorities are not clear whether remarks made by academics can be viewed as representative of the government's stance. Appointing an academic can therefore prevent misunderstandings and miscommunications. It would simplify communication," Wu said.

"This idea came about because cross-strait ties are often burdened by a lot of misinterpretation. Academics can serve as a means of communication, a bridge," Wu said. He pointed out that while the appointed academic would be primarily engaged in research, he or she would also be available to relay communication on the government's behalf.

According to a seven-point outline of Wu's academic confidence-building measures, the academic would be available to receive and relay invitations to international conferences hosted by either country. He also said that the lines of communication created by the appointed academic would be used to put a halt to remarks made by officials in both nations that were particularly offensive to the other side.

Wu said that China had not imposed an absolute prohibition on cross-strait academic exchanges. He said that while China had blocked Chinese academics from flocking to Taiwan after the March 20 presidential election, academic exchange had picked up again.

Wu also suggested yesterday that cooperative ties be established between the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy and its counterpart in Japan to research and make suggestions regarding the handling of political reform in China. He said that Taiwan and Japan were the most important democracies in the region and a concerted effort in imparting concrete suggestions to Chinese authorities would benefit regional stability.

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