Although the long-expected direct air, shipping and postal links between Taiwan and China were launched on Monday, hurdles remain before the intermediary bodies of the two sides can exchange offices, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) said on Tuesday.
“The MAC hopes to gradually achieve its goals by increasing two-way interactions, systematic negotiations and building mutual trust. But it will never trade Taiwan’s sovereignty for economic benefit,” Lai said.
“On the contrary, we will further highlight Taiwan’s independence from China and set the stage for the two sides to conduct negotiations on an equal footing,” she said.
Lai made the remarks while explaining the government’s cross-strait policy at a public meeting in Kaohsiung County.
Following the historic meeting between Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) President Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) in Taipei last month, cross-strait relations entered a new era in which Taiwan and China will no longer deny each other’s existence, Lai said.
In a follow-up to their first meeting in Beijing in June, Chiang and Chen inked four pacts in Taipei, agreeing to establish direct daily charter flights, open shipping and postal services and set up a reporting mechanism on food safety.
The meeting means that China does not deny Taiwan’s existence, which is an improvement from the past, when the two sides did not recognize each other and when cross-strait exchanges were limited, Lai said.
As Taiwan-China trade totaled more than US$130 billion last year, the government needs an effective mechanism to help Taiwanese resolve the problems arising from interaction with China and to guarantee fair negotiations between the two sides, she said.
Through the SEF-ARATS negotiations, the government is poised to strengthen Taiwan’s sovereignty in a gradual fashion rather than in a reckless manner, Lai said.
During the third round of talks scheduled for the spring, Chiang and Chen are expected to discuss joint efforts in combating crime, cooperation on fisheries, cross-strait financial supervision and an accord to protect Taiwanese business interests in China, she said.