Tue, Jun 29, 2010 - Page 1 News List

China, Taiwan get ready to sign controversial pact

'COMPATRIOTS'The head of China's top agency for dealing with Taiwan affairs said that signing the ECFA proved that Chinese could take care of their problems

By Flora Wang and Vincent Y. Chao  /  STAFF REPORTERS , CHONGQING, CHINA, AND TAIPEI

Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin, second left, shakes hands with Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Chiang Pin-kung, second right, in front of Chen’s wife, Nai Xiaohua, left, and Chiang’s wife, Chen Mei-fuey, right, during a welcome ceremony ahead of the upcoming cross strait meetings to sign an economic cooperation framework agreement in Chongqing, China, yesterday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

During a red-carpet ceremony to welcome a team of Taiwanese negotiators yesterday, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) said the to-be-signed cross-strait economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) and a copyright protection deal would enhance the “Chinese people’s global competitiveness.”

“The two deals were proposed to address new situations and problems arising in a globalized and regionally integrated economy,” Chen said during welcoming remarks at a hotel in Chongqing, Sichuan Province, where the fifth round of cross-strait talks is being held.

“The deals are a major strategic move taken by Beijing and Taipei to enhance the global competitiveness of the Chinese people,” he said.

Chen said both sides of the Taiwan Strait would complete the signing and begin a new chapter of cross-strait history through joint efforts made by “compatriots” across the Taiwan Strait.

Chen repeated the term “compatriots” several times as he welcomed Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and the Taiwanese negotiators to the biggest city in southwest China.

Chiang and Chen are scheduled to sign the historic agreement and the copyright protection deal this morning.

Chen said the 12 cross-strait pacts ARATS and SEF had signed over the past two years were meant to serve the interests of “the compatriots across the Taiwan Strait” and that they lived up to the strong desire of “the compatriots” to pursue peace and prosperity.

“[The cross-strait talks] have gained strong support and understanding from people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, which proves that Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait have the wisdom to resolve our own problems through negotiation,” Chen said. “The fact that we can reach so many agreements in such a short period of time shows our efforts represent the interests of both sides.”

Meanwhile, Chiang focused on the benefits the ECFA could bring to Taiwan.

“[An ECFA] will allow Taiwanese products to have a fair opportunity to compete with ASEAN products in the Chinese market,” Chiang said.

Barriers to investment and trade on up to 90 percent of the products flowing between China and ASEAN’s six founding members — Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand — fell from Jan. 1. Four more ASEAN countries — Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam — will be added by 2015.

During a briefing to reporters yesterday evening, SEF Vice Chairman Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉) said negotiators from both sides had made a final confirmation of the contents of the ECFA and the copyright protection deal and that the agreements would be signed today as scheduled.

However, Kao said both sides discussed how to strictly regulate labeling the origin of products to prevent some products from being passed off as Taiwanese.

Kao said investment protection could be included in future cross-strait negotiations, but “the issue is no less complicated than the ECFA.”

Asked how both sides would submit the ECFA documents to the WTO after signing them, Kao said cross-strait agreements were all written in Chinese, with each side to take responsibility for their English version. when submitting the documents to the WTO.

In Taipei, the two main opposition parties criticized the ECFA and continued to express concern that the agreement would have a negative impact on Taiwanese jobs, widen income disparity and damage fragile industries.

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