Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) yesterday expressed regret after allegations that his son had obtained a special permit from China to sell steel, saying he had asked his family to reduce business ties with China after taking office.
The SEF issued a statement yesterday afternoon saying that his son’s business did not require any special permit from the Chinese government. Although his son’s company won a contract to represent China’s state-owned steel company, it did not need a special permit because any private company can sell the products. Besides, Chiang said, the contract expired in January and was not renewed, he said.
The office in Shanghai is closed and he had asked his family to decrease business ties with China since he took office, he said.
Chiang said he knew very little about his son’s business and rarely asked about it. He also said that he had not used his position to secure any business deals for his son.
The statement said Chiang had resigned from a joint venture and a foundation to avoid any conflict of interest.
He said he hoped the media would be more supportive of him and the cross-strait negotiation team.
Chiang also dismissed a report published in yesterday’s Chinese-language China Times claiming that Chiang was tired of his job and might quit after the upcoming cross-strait talks with his Chinese counterpart, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林).
Chiang said he was not tired and that his top priority was his meeting with Chen.
Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) said yesterday she was not aware of any reshuffle and had nothing to say about the criticism directed at Chiang.
She said, however, that Chiang was not a “policymaker” or “negotiator” in cross-strait affairs, but rather the “executor” of the council’s policy and that the Chiang issue was therefore “irrelevant.”
Chiang’s quitting the two positions did not mean there were problems, she said, adding that he had not made personal gains from the six agreements Taipei signed with Beijing.
Lai said that both sides are scheduled to hold a preparatory meeting in Taipei on Saturday to discuss the time and place of the Chiang-Chen talks. She said it was possible that both sides would hold a second preparatory meeting.
Both sides had agreed at their last meeting that the next one would be held outside Beijing, while Taipei has proposed that it be held in Nanjing. While the upcoming meeting is scheduled for next month or in June, Lai has said that it would be held sooner rather than later if both sides could reach a consensus on the matter.
While some people have expressed concern over the possibility of protests during the preparatory meeting, Lai said she believed the public would be rational and act with maturity.On whether the two sides would address the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA), MAC Deputy Minister Fu Don-cheng (傅棟成) said he hoped it would be a “talking point” at the upcoming Chiang-Chen meeting, provided both sides reached a consensus.
If both sides are interested in the topic, the council will follow up by authorizing the SEF before the Chiang-Chen meeting, he said.
On the allegations surrounding Chiang’s son, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said yesterday: “If this situation occurred in any other country, the official would have to step down.”