Security agencies yesterday provided the tentative scheduling information for the sixth round of cross-strait talks, saying the meetings would likely be held at the Grand Hotel in Taipei from Thursday next week to Dec. 18, dates that the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) declined to confirm.
Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau (MJIB) Deputy Director-General Chen Chih-yang (陳志揚) told the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee that Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) was expected to lead the team of Chinese negotiators.
Preparatory talks would be held between officials from both sides on Tuesday and Wednesday next week, Chen Chih-yang said.
A senior-level preparatory meeting is also scheduled for the afternoon of Thursday next week, while Chen Yunlin and Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) would “sign agreements” the next day, Chen Chih-yang said.
However, MAC Deputy Minister Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) later yesterday declined to confirm whether the Chiang-Chen meeting would even take place next week, saying it had yet to be finalized.
MAC Minister Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) was also mum on the time and place of the meeting, saying it would be finalized “in the near future.”
Both sides were expected to sign a medical cooperation agreement, while another agreement on investment protection appeared to have been delayed.
NO SIGNING LIKELY
However, the council said Taipei and Beijing were unlikely to sign the agreement on investment protection in the talks because of the complexity of the issue and limited time to negotiate.
Lee Li-jane (李麗珍), director of MAC’s Department of Economic Affairs, said the two sides held the third round of official “communications” on the issue over the weekend and agreed that there was not enough time to sign the agreement by the end of this month.
“SEF and ARATS will continue to exchange opinions and make public the progress made,” she said.
Lee declined to reveal what caused the delay.
C. Y. Ling (凌家裕), director-general of the Department of Investment Services at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, was also tight-lipped about the details.
Taipei and Beijing had agreed in June to address the issues of investment protection and medical and health cooperation when they meet again later this year.
Liu said that as there was still time before Chiang and Chen met later this month, both sides would continue negotiations.
“Both sides had hoped to sign the accord later this year, but it is quite difficult to achieve the goal in merely two months,” Liu said.
“Some negotiations on proposed issues had broken down in the past, such as the one on avoiding double taxation. We will not sign an agreement simply because we want one. We, like them, will do our best to get the best deal,” Liu added.
The National Security Bureau (NSB) and the National Police Agency (NPA), which were both invited to brief the committee on the upcoming visit, did not provide specific scheduling information about the upcoming meetings.
However, the MJIB and NSB denied that the schedule was final, adding that the SEF had the authority to finalize the schedule.
NSB Deputy Director-General Lin Hui-yang (林惠陽) told the committee that the NSB had not received information of any potential security threats, but that it would plan out the necessary security preparations with other intelligence agencies.
NPA Deputy Director-General Yi Yong-ren (伊永仁) said the agency would dispatch police in accordance with the information it receives, adding that unless it has legal reasons to do so, police would not confiscate national flags or others items brought by protesters either at or near the venue of the meetings.
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