Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Secretary-General Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉) yesterday denied that China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) had asked that no Republic of China (ROC) flag be shown in any of the sites that its chairman, Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), would visit when he comes to Taiwan.
Chen is scheduled to make his first trip to Taiwan at the end of this month or early next month for talks with his Taiwanese counterpart, SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤).
Kao made the remarks in response to a claim by Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝), who told a press conference yesterday that he had heard “from reliable sources” that ARATS had requested that during Chen’s stay in Taiwan, no ROC flags be on display in places Chen visits.
“He [Chen] is a guest and is supposed to respect the host [Taiwan,]” Huang said. “It would be humiliating to all Taiwanese people if we comply with ARATS’ request.”
“Being friendly does not necessarily mean one has to be a chicken. President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) should stand for this,” he said. “If the president cannot stand up and protect the nation’s dignity, the TSU will organize its supporters to do so.”
Kao said ARATS had never made such a request during the course of communications.
Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) also rebutted Huang’s claim, when asked to comment at the legislature yesterday.
Lai said the government would ensure Chen’s safety during his visit, but Chen would not enjoy leader-level protection.
MAC cannot yet announce the date of Chen’s visit because the council is still discussing the details of the visit with ARATS, she said.
Lai did not answer when asked for comment on a survey released by the MAC on Wednesday that up to 52 percent of respondents said Chen should visit Taipei only after China apologizes over the melamine scare.
“The MAC believes that the most important objective of the meeting between SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung and Chen is to negotiate and solve many problems,” she said.
“Nearly 65 percent of the respondents [in the poll] welcomed the meeting being held in Taipei. As such, many issues will be tackled during the second Chiang-Chen meeting, including food safety concerns connected to the melamine incident,” she said.
In response to a question posed by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators, Lai said Taiwan would not sign a Closer Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with China.
“A CEPA was clinched between Hong Kong and China, but Taiwan is not Hong Kong, and Taiwan certainly will not ink a similar pact with China,” Lai said. “The MAC has not, nor will it, authorize the quasi-official SEF to negotiate with China’s ARATS on that issue.”
Hong Kong and China inked a CEPA in June 2003, helping to open up a huge market for Hong Kong goods and services and effectively improving Hong Kong’s economy.
DPP lawmakers voiced concern that if Taiwan signed a CEPA with China, it would harm Taiwan’s national dignity and its sovereignty.
Additional reporting by Ko Shu-ling
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