Tue, Oct 07, 2008 - Page 3 News List

No date yet for ARATS chief’s visit: MAC

UP IN THE AIR Mainland Affairs Council spokesman Liu Teh-hsun said a date for the preparatory session for the next round of talks would be set by the end of this week

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) continued to be evasive on exactly when Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) would visit Taiwan, but confirmed the trip would take place before the end of the year in spite of recent protests over contaminated milk powder from China.

“We have not decided on an exact date but the general direction has been set,” council spokesman Liu Teh-hsun (劉德勳) said.

“We are aiming for the end of October or beginning of November,” Liu said.

Some pundits have speculated that Chen would visit next month because the many national flags decorating streets in Taipei for Double Ten national day celebrations would stay up until the end of the month.

Chen will visit Taipei for a second round of face-to-face talks with Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤). On the agenda will be direct cargo flights, direct sea links and food safety concerns.

The first talks between the SEF and ARATS were held in June in Beijing, when the two sides signed agreements to allow more Chinese tourists into Taiwan and begin weekend chartered flights.

Liu was also evasive about when the preparatory meeting for the second round of talks would occur, but hinted that the date and venue of the preparatory meeting should be nailed down sometime this week.

When asked if the foundation would demand Chen publicly apologize for Chinese melamine-tainted products, Liu said such a move would be superfluous because Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) has already made such a request.

In a question-and-answer session at the legislature last Tuesday, Liu demanded an apology from China for allowing products contaminated with melamine to be exported to Taiwan.

“It would be up to Chen’s conscience whether he apologizes or not,” Liu said.

Last week the government sent a group of health experts to Beijing to discuss the establishment of a platform to prevent the importation of substandard Chinese food.

Former council chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) has strongly criticized the delegation’s trip as detrimental to Taiwan’s attempts to join the WHO.

“It sends a false message to the WHO and the rest of the international community that China is watching out for Taiwan’s public health and therefore Taiwan has no need to join the WHO,” Wu said.

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