Tue, Jun 17, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Wang urges speed on cross-strait bill

NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT? DPP spokesman Chen Wen-tsang raised concerns about the projected use of airfields at Hualien and Taichung for cross-strait flights

By Flora Wang and Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday urged the Cabinet to submit its draft bill regulating cross-strait agreements to the legislature as soon as possible.

“Current legislative oversight over cross-strait agreements remains insufficient. Related legislation should be passed as soon as possible to prevent controversies arising from execution of the deals and to prevent harming Taiwanese interests,” Wang told reporters after meeting Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤).

Wang said the Legislative Yuan will also set up a task force to handle cross-strait affairs and to assist and supervise the Cabinet in cross-strait negotiations.

Chiang, who was authorized by the government to negotiate direct weekend charter flights and an increase in Chinese tourists with China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), returned to Taiwan on Saturday night.

Chiang signed accords with his Chinese counterpart, ARATS chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), to launch weekend cross-strait flights and allow more Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan.

But on Saturday he said that he had not reached a consensus with Chen on setting up branch offices for their respective organizations in Taipei and Beijing, as had been reported in the media.

Chiang told reporters yesterday that the SEF would engage in more negotiation with ARATS regarding cross-strait cargo charter flights, shortening cross-strait flight routes and direct cross-strait sea transportation in the future.

The speaker then reminded Chiang that the Statute Governing Relations Between the Peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (兩岸人民關係條例) stipulates that legislative resolutions are required before any direct cross-strait links are opened.

The statute also states the need for legislation to be passed before any branch offices can be opened, Wang said.

It also stipulates that any cross-strait agreements not requiring new legislation or legal amendment should be referred to the Executive Yuan and the legislature for verification within 30 days after the agreements are signed.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus yesterday criticized Chiang and chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) after the duo ignored an invitation to a breakfast meeting to brief the caucus on the progress of the cross-strait talks.

“The pair attempted to avoid the supervision of the opposition party on cross-strait affairs, and they also defied the legislature,” William Lai (賴清德), DPP legislative caucus whip, said during the meeting.

Lai said MAC and SEF officials yielded to China in last week’s cross-strait talks, and now they were avoiding domestic supervision.

MAC Vice Chairman Fu Don-cheng (傅棟成) and SEF Secretary-General Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉) yesterday represented their agencies at the meeting, but DPP lawmakers did not allow them to speak.

DPP Legislator Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠) said Taiwan had agreed to open eight airports in the charter flight deal while China had only agreed to open five, and that Taiwan’s national security and air defense had been compromised in the deal.

Chiang yesterday dismissed DPP criticism, saying he would follow the precedent set by former SEF chairman Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫) that the SEF chairman only reports to the legislature’s Home and Nations Committee instead of to legislative caucuses.

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