Thu, Dec 23, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Minister sets missile talk conditions

FACE SAVING:Lai Shin-yuan said she felt very sorry that a Chinese envoy had declined to use her official title, but felt he must have had his own considerations

By Ko Shu-ling  /  Staff Reporter

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) yesterday set two preconditions for cross-strait discussions on the removal of Chinese missiles targeting Taiwan, but emphasized the time is not ripe for such talks.

“Before politically related issues are placed on the table, the public must come to a consensus and both sides of the Taiwan Strait must have a sufficient amount of trust in each other. However, the current conditions are inadequate,” said Lai, who on Tuesday called on China to address concerns about its military buildup targeting Taiwan during her meeting with China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林). Lai declined to offer details of their private conversation.

When asked by reporters when would be a good time for Taipei and Beijing to sit down and talk about the issue, Lai said high-level cross-strait talks have been held in Taiwan three times since 2008 and she had brought up the subject on each occasion she had met Chen.

Lai said she had told Chen during their meetings that the council’s position on the matter was that China should take the initiative to adjust its missile deployment against Taiwan.

Regarding when the two sides should discuss non-economic or political issues, Lai said the government’s policy on cross-strait negotiations is clear: Both sides should tackle easier and urgent issues first and economic issues precede political ones.

Lai made the remarks during the question-and-answer session at a press conference she chaired where Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) presented the agreement on medical and health cooperation he signed with Chen on Tuesday.

Chen referred to Lai as “you” during their meeting on Tuesday, Lai said yesterday, but she added it was clear that she had met Chen in her capacity as the head of the council.

“I called him Chairman Chen, but the ARATS is not an official government agency,” she said. “He sometimes addressed me as ‘you’ or ‘Shin-yuan’ or both ... I personally feel very sorry that he could not call me by my official title, but he must have his own considerations.”

Although the two sides failed to close a deal on investment protection this time, Lai said the government would never sign an accord just for the sake of it. It would instead proceed under the principle of taking a Taiwan-centered approach and doing anything beneficial for the people of Taiwan.

Over the past two-and-a-half years, both sides have signed 15 agreements. That proves that the government not only plays a leading role in setting the agenda of negotiations, but also has successfully advanced Taiwan’s economic and social development and protected the public interest, she said.

“We take concrete actions to protect our sovereignty, security and industries, and various polls have showed that our efforts have received overwhelming support from the public,” she said.

At a separate setting, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said Chen’s remarks that Taiwan and China should sit down to discuss the removal of missiles amounted to a political maneuver.

“Their political motives for this are very clear,” DPP spokesperson Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said. “On the one hand they hold talks with Taiwan, and on the other, they continue to deploy more missiles aimed at us.”

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