Strait ties to move ‘slowly’: MAC

ADDRESSING THE ISSUE::In a radio interview, the MAC minister said China’s use of the Mainland Affairs Council’s official title last week constituted a breakthrough

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Feb 18, 2014 - Page 1

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) yesterday said that any further breakthroughs between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait will have to be achieved “slowly, one step at a time.”

Previously, China referred to the council by all kinds of alternative names, but it used the title “Mainland Affairs Council” for the first time during Wang’s visit last week, he said in a radio interview.

“This is progress, a breakthrough,” he said.

Wang said that other breakthroughs achieved during his four-day visit included his public reference to the Republic of China (ROC) and the use of his official title on a card attached to a wreath presented at ROC founding father Sun Yat-sen’s (孫逸仙) mausoleum in Nanjing.

Wang said that the proposal to hold a presidential summit between the two sides during the Beijing-sponsored Boao Forum for Asia will have to be studied.

He gave that assessment after the Chinese government ruled out the possibility of such a summit taking place at the APEC forum in Beijing in November.

China does not deem it appropriate for the leaders from each side of the Taiwan Strait to meet in an international setting such as the APEC forum, so the possibility of them meeting at that time is not high, Wang said.

Wang added that he would ask former vice president and former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰) to raise the issue of officials’ right to visit detainees on the opposite side during his visit to China.

Lien left for Beijing yesterday.

The two sides have in principle reached an agreement to set up reciprocal representative offices, but there are still differences over Taiwan’s request that officials of its proposed representative office in China be allowed to visit Taiwanese detainees there, and vice versa.

Lien, who chairs the Lien Chan Foundation for Peace and Development, is leading a delegation of business and KMT officials on a four-day visit, during which they will attend a forum and exchange ideas with their counterparts in China.

Taiwan Affairs Office spokeswoman Fan Liqing (范麗青) yesterday said in Beijing that Lien will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), who is also general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party.

It will be Lien’s second meeting with Xi in as many years.

Lien’s visit will be meaningful for the expansion and deepening of exchanges between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and will be beneficial to enhancing mutual understanding between the two sides, Fan said, lauding Lien for making significant contributions to promoting the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.

In 2005, Lien became the first top KMT leader to visit China since 1949. Since then, he has maintained warm relations with top CCP leaders, including Xi’s predecessor former Chinese president Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), Fan said.