Wed, Mar 06, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Premier warns mayor to stay in lane on China trip

CROSS-STRAIT:Local government leaders can engage in mutually beneficial exchanges, but must leave political matters to the central government, Su Tseng-chang said

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Premier Su Tseng-chang, left, and Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chen Ming-tong take part in a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times

Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) should be mindful during his upcoming visit to China not to overstep his purview when it comes to cross-strait issues and be wary of any political framework Beijing might try to impose, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday.

Su made the remarks in response to lawmakers’ questions about Han’s remark on Monday, when the mayor said he hoped the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) would approve his plan for a week-long visit to China.

Announcing a plan to visit Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen and Xiamen from March 22 to March 28, Han, a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), said he hoped the trip would generate opportunities to further economic interaction across the Taiwan Strait.

The visit would focus on how to improve the economy, with care taken to minimize political interaction as much as possible, Han said, adding that he would comply with the council’s regulations and not meet with high-ranking Chinese officials.

On Monday evening, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said it “welcomed and supported” Han’s visit “to develop cross-strait ties between cities on the basis of the 1992 consensus.”

The so-called “1992 consensus” refers to a tacit agreement between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party that there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.

Former MAC chairman Su Chi (蘇起) in 2006 admitted making up the term in 2000.

Su Tseng-chang said the council has always supported mutually beneficial exchanges between local governments on both sides of the Strait.

However, China set the wheels of “unification” in motion by saying that it has not renounced the use of force in efforts to annex Taiwan, and advocates the “1992 consensus” to impose its “one country, two systems” model on Taiwan, the premier said.

“We strongly oppose such assertions by China. The central government adopts a firm stance when defending the nation’s sovereignty, which does not concern local governments,” he said.

Local government leaders can engage in equal, mutually beneficial exchanges to boost local development, but Han must stay out of matters handled by the central government, he said.

“Do not be hemmed in by political frameworks imposed by a totalitarian Chinese government that has not given up annexing Taiwan by force,” Su added.

MAC Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) said that after a discussion with Han, he felt “reassured” about the trip, and the council on Monday offered Han any assistance necessary.

Meanwhile, New Power Party Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) asked why the council appeared to have been less strict in reviewing applications for visits by Chinese officials.

Immigration Agency statistics showed that the council in 2016, 2017 and last year rejected 6.8 percent, 6 percent and 5.5 percent of such requests respectively, Lim said.

Chen said that the council encourages cross-strait exchanges if they are carried out on an equal footing.

Lim said that Chinese officials tasked with penetrating Taiwanese society would not reveal their true intentions on an application form, citing the “Sing! China: Shanghai-Taipei Music Festival” in 2017.

The singing contest, held at National Taiwan University, was thrown into chaos after armed Chinese Unity Promotion Party members attacked and injured four students at the school.

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