Wed, Sep 08, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Cai urges liberalizing cultural exchanges, but mum on details

VISITOR’S VIEWSA top Chinese official said there was no timetable for setting up cultural affairs offices on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Minister of Culture Cai Wu (蔡武) yesterday called for a greater liberalization in cross-strait cultural exchanges, but said China would not “yield benefits” in a cultural agreement as it did in signing a trade pact in June.

Cai, who is scheduled to return to China today after a seven-day visit, said both sides could cooperate to create better conditions for cultural exchanges.

“They include simplifying procedures, lowering thresholds and gradually lifting restrictions,” Cai said. “People on both sides of the Taiwan Strait will be the true beneficiary of cross-strait exchanges and peaceful development.”

THRESHOLDS?

When asked whether the thresholds he mentioned referred to relaxing regulations on market access to China’s culture and creative industries, Cai did not give a definite answer, but said both sides could talk about how to create a win-win scenario.

“There are WTO rules in place and each side has its own policies for managing its domestic market,” he said during a visit to the National Museum of History in response to a media query.

“We can talk about how to connect the two and make things easier and more convenient,” he said.

While Beijing promoted with great fanfare the “benefits” the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) would bring to Taiwan before the pact was signed in June, Cai said cultural exchanges were different.

“Cultural exchanges have always been two-way and mutually beneficial,” he said.

As for Council for Cultural Affairs Minister Emile Sheng’s (盛治仁) proposal to establish official cultural affairs offices on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, Cai said the idea was being discussed, but there was no timetable.

SEF VIEWPOINT

Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤), who hosted Cai at a lunch at the Ambassador Hotel yesterday, said cross-strait negotiations have entered a new phase since the ECFA was signed.

“Our policy is to tackle the easier issues and economic issues precede political ones,” Chiang said. “Now we are still dealing with the economic issues, but we can begin to tackle the more difficult ones.”

Describing Cai’s visit as a “milestone,” Chiang said before the two sides took the next step — political negotiations — there were other issues that needed to be addressed, including culture, education, media and sanitation.

Chiang said that he and Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) had agreed to discuss sanitation at their next meeting later this year.

Chiang said he hoped both sides would continue to shelve their differences and seek common ground.

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