Saying that exchanges with China must not undermine sovereignty or the country’s position, a Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) official yesterday suggested people would not be apprehended if they bring the national flag to the cross-strait high-level talks set to begin on Monday in Taipei.
“I believe the security details and law enforcement personnel fully understand where we stand in this matter,” MAC Deputy Minister Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) said. “The national flag represents the country...It will be where it is supposed to be. The same principle applies to the cross-strait meetings.”
Liu made the remarks in response to a media inquiry about the council’s position on bringing the national flag to the meeting between Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) following the council’s recent promotional campaign that stated “the national flag should be left where it is supposed to be.”
Liu yesterday encouraged the public to better understand the institutionalized negotiation system between the SEF and ARATS. He also urged the public to “participate in the meeting in different forms.” He did not elaborate.
Taipei and Beijing have held five high-level meetings since 2008. The next round will take place in Taipei from Monday to Wednesday when Chiang and Chen are set to sign an agreement on medical and health cooperation.
The two sides had originally planned to sign a separate accord on investment protection, but agreed to postpone it, citing the complexity of the issue and time constraints.
Liu yesterday said both sides have had differences since the beginning, but each side knows full well the other’s concerns and it takes time to iron them out.
On the cross-strait economic cooperation committee, Liu said that it will be subject to legislative oversight. Liu said the function of the committee is to negotiate, not to set policies.
Once the negotiations are complete, any agreement that need to be signed will be handled by the SEF and ARATS before proceeding to the legislature for approval, he said, adding that the committee cannot make any decision, nor can it replace the SEF or ARATS.
The Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) Taipei and Beijing signed in June stipulates that once the trade pact takes effect, the two sides are to set up a cross-strait economic cooperation committee, and within six months will initiate discussions on agreements on investment protection, commodity trade, service trade and a dispute-resolving mechanism.
The ECFA came into force on Sept. 12, while the “early harvest” program will be implemented on Jan. 1 next year.