Heavy security as ARATS chief visits

CROSS-STRAIT TALKS::Chiang Pin-kung touted an investment protection pact that the two sides are expected to sign — but many expressed doubts

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Aug 09, 2012 - Page 1

Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) arrived in Taipei yesterday to begin negotiations on a cross-strait investment protection agreement, amid protests by pro-independence activists concerned that the pact could damage Taiwanese sovereignty.

The chairman of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) is on a three-day visit to hold talks with his Taiwanese counterpart, Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤). The two are expected to sign the investment protection pact today at the Grand Hotel.

Hundreds of police have been deployed around the Grand Hotel and its vicinity, and barricades have been put up in front of all entrances to the hotel to keep out protesters. The control area was expanded to 10km2, with police cars patrolling roads leading up to the hotel, including Zhongshan N Road, Beian Road and Xinsheng N Road.

The Grand Hotel also limited its shuttle bus service at the MRT Yuan-shan Station to hotel guests who have already made reservations, cross-strait negotiation staff and media personnel covering Chen’s three-day visit. Hotel staff were sent to screen passengers at the bus stop.

A hotel employee, who wished not to be named, said the hotel had adopted temporary transportation controls in coordination with the police’s security measures.

“Some protesters had sneaked into the hotel and pretended they were hotel guests, and so the police asked the hotel to make sure that only hotel guests and related personnel enter the hotel this time,” she said.

A small group of independence advocates clashed with police yesterday morning when they tried to enter the hotel. They were later dispersed by the police.

Chen arrived at the hotel at about 1pm, an hour behind schedule due to a flight delay. The organizers canceled the welcome ceremony at the hotel, as Chen and Chiang headed to Taipei Zoo and the Maokong Gondola for an afternoon tour.

Meeting with the press before Chen’s arrival, Chiang said the investment protection agreement would establish a platform for investors from both sides of the Taiwan Strait to solve investment disputes in a systematic way and make such investments more transparent.

The pact will set up a mechanism to solve disputes involving G2G (government-to-government), P2P (private-to-private) and P2G (private-to-government), and help protect the rights of Taiwanese businesses in China.

The government has also promised that the agreement would not pave the way for the entry of more Chinese investment and capital.

Chen later issued a statement saying that both the investment protection agreement and the planned customs cooperation agreement were crucial to follow-up negotiations on the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA).

At the Chiang-Chen meeting, the two envoys will determine the agenda in the next round of cross-strait talks. The pair said they would focus on negotiations on trade in goods and services, as well as setting up a dispute-solving mechanism under the ECFA.

“The two sides are still negotiating issues including trade in services and trade in goods, and we should complete the negotiations on the trade in service, which is less complicated than issues involving trade in goods,” Chiang said.