Sat, Nov 04, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Eric Chu defends proposal for Beijing office

By Stacy Hsu and Lai Hsiao-tung  /  Staff reporters

New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu speaks to reporters on the sidelines of a New Taipei City Council meeting yesterday.

Photo: Lai Hsiao-tung, Taipei Times

New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) yesterday defended a proposal to establish a city-level representative office in Beijing to facilitate cross-strait exchanges, saying that it was motivated by his desire to serve the public, rather than political factors.

Chu told reporters on the sidelines of a New Taipei City Council meeting that as there are scores of Taiwanese businesspeople, students and expatriates in China, the government should think about how to provide better service to such people.

“Like I said yesterday [Thursday], this matter can be further discussed under the framework of 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). The Mainland Affairs Council [MAC] does not need to reject the proposal outright,” Chu said.

The idea to establish a “New Taipei City representative office” in Beijing, other Chinese cities, Hong Kong or Macau was first suggested by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) New Taipei City Councilor Chen Ming-yi (陳明義) at a city council meeting on Thursday.

Chu, the only KMT mayor of a special municipality, responded positively to the proposal, saying he was open to discussions.

However, MAC Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) rejected the proposal at a routine news conference later that day, saying it was inappropriate for local governments to deal with such matters.

“Given gloomy cross-strait ties, we should encourage city-to-city interactions and be more flexible in how we provide service to China-based Taiwanese expatriates, students and businesspeople,” Chu said.

Representative offices could be established in any Chinese city by either the central or local governments, he said, urging the council to see from the public’s perspective instead of letting politics influence its decision.

Asked to comment, Chiu yesterday said the act stipulates that handling cross-strait affairs is the central government’s mandate.

“Establishment of a representative office concerns the extension of public power and would require the agreement of the other side of the Taiwan Strait. Such a complicated matter has to be dealt with through cross-strait negotiations and be considered from the perspective of the government’s overall policy direction,” Chiu said.

It is not something that a local government can unilaterally handle, he added.

The council understands that many local governments have a need to serve their people, Chiu said, adding that the council is more than willing to listen to their valuable input and to provide necessary information and assistance.

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