A meeting on Sunday between Beijing officials and a delegation of eight Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and independent local government heads was likely orchestrated by China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), an official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The group met Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Chairman Yu Zhengsheng (俞正聲) and Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) in Beijing.
The Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例) requires local government heads to apply for a travel permit to China one week in advance, and the delegates submitted their applications together, which implied that the meeting had been planned for a considerable time, the official said.
A joint visit to Beijing should have been a challenge for local government heads to accomplish on their own initiative and resources, because officials at county and special municipality levels do not have guaranteed access to channels of communication with Chinese officials, the official said.
However, a meeting organized by the TAO would be able to guarantee the necessary access to high-level Chinese officials, as well as create the parameters for what could and could not be discussed, with the group “not having to do anything beyond show up,” the official said.
In response to the delegation’s call for expanding cross-strait tourism and cultural exchanges, Beijing issued an eight-point statement in less than a day, the official said.
“The clever and speedy way in which the meeting was handled shows that the TAO had invested heavily in it,” the official said.
The suspension of cross-strait communications that followed President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) inauguration put pressure on the TAO and other Chinese officials in charge of cross-strait affairs, and they require tangible results to show to their superiors, the official said.
“The delegation’s trip to Beijing is the direct result of internal pressure, and the TAO did it to promote united front political warfare and to produce results for their superiors,” the official said.
During the meeting on Sunday, Yu told the delegation that “the mainland adamantly supports the ‘one China’ principle that is the core of the ‘1992 consensus’ and is intractably opposed Taiwanese independence. This is the mainland’s bottom line.”
The delegation’s KMT members are Hsinchu County Commissioner Chiu Ching-chun (邱鏡淳), Miaoli County Commissioner Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌), Nantou County Commissioner Lin Ming-chen (林明溱), Lienchiang County Commissioner Liu Tseng-ying (劉增應), New Taipei City Deputy Mayor Yeh Hui-ching (葉惠青) and Taitung County Deputy Commissioner Chen Chin-hu (陳金虎), while the independents are Hualien County Commissioner Fu Kun-chi and Kinmen County Deputy Commissioner Wu Cheng-tien (吳成典).
“Recognition for the ‘1992 consensus’ is the proviso required for exchanges between Taiwanese and Chinese local governments,” Zhang said.
The “1992 consensus” — a term former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) admitted to making up in 2000 — refers to a supposed understanding reached during talks in 1992 that both Taiwan and China acknowledge that there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what that means.
Beijing’s response to the delegation appears to be a commitment or administrative measure and not an agreement, Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said yesterday.
“The Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area forbids reaching any agreements with China that are not authorized by the Mainland Affairs Council, and any person involved in an unauthorized agreement would be held accountable upon returning to Taiwan,” he said.
Tourism Bureau Director-General Chou Yung-hui (周永暉) said any initiative by central or local officials that encourage tourism should be viewed positively.
Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍), a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) member, slammed the delegation, saying that no conditions should be attached to cross-strait tourism, and that China’s preferential treatment for pan-blue political leaders risks antagonizing pan-green voters in their areas.
Premier Lin Chuan (林全) said he was glad to see any friendly interaction between Taiwan and China, but no political preconditions should be set on cross-strait dialogue, and Taiwanese participants must guard national sovereignty and dignity against any harm that could arise during exchanges with Beijing.
Lin Ming-chen told a news briefing that he went to Beijing to enhance tourism and export opportunities, and denied having discussed any political agenda or harming national sovereignty.
Additional reporting by Chang Hsieh-sheng
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