The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday was evasive on why the administration was reluctant to protest Chinese vessels venturing into waters off the Diaoyutai islands (釣魚台), which Taiwan considers its territory.
MAC Deputy Minister Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) said the government’s position was clear and consistent and that the administration would do whatever it could to protect the life, property and interests of fishermen.
Taiwan lodged a protest against Tokyo on Tuesday after a Taiwanese fishing boat heading to the islands was turned back by seven Japanese patrol vessels.
Meanwhile, Liu denied speculation that Beijing was attempting to reach a political consensus with Taipei that both sides would focus on resolving economic issues through an institutionalized negotiation platform.
Liu said the most pressing matter at the moment was building mutual trust. President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has made it clear that the two sides would not tackle political issues during his presidency, he said.
On the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, Liu said the council on Wednesday had authorized the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) to begin negotiations on upcoming high-level cross-strait talks and on the formation of a cross-strait economic cooperation committee.
SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and his Chinese counterpart, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), are planning to sign an investment protection pact and an agreement on medical and health cooperation later this year.
Chiang, who left yesterday for a four-day visit to Shanghai and Kunshan, Jiangsu Province, said that the main purpose of the visit was to meet with Taiwanese businesspeople there.
He also plans to visit the Taiwan Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo and preside over a ceremony to erect a statue at a Taiwan-built Matsu temple in Kunshan.
In related news, Civil Aeronautics Administration Director General Yin Chen-pong (尹承篷) confirmed yesterday that China had approved applications by Taiwanese carriers for new weekly flights to Shenzhen, Fuzhou and Xiamen, adding that the matter of “red eye flights,” which had derailed plans to launch the new routes, had been resolved after Chinese airlines yielded some time slots.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHELLEY SHAN AND CNA