Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kun (江丙坤) yesterday acknowledged that cross-strait talks have entered a challenging stage because of the increasingly complicated issues to be addressed, but added that negotiations will continue to proceed in an effort to expand the scope of cross-strait exchange.
Speaking prior to the sixth round of cross-strait talks with China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) next week, Chiang said the two sides will continue to negotiate on the basis of dignity and reciprocity, while simplifying the process to focus more on practical and fundamental issues, including the failed attempt to sign an agreement on investment protection.
“The two sides have different positions on issues regarding investment protection, and this highlights one of the principles in cross-strait negotiations, which is to address easy issues before moving on to difficult ones. We are now entering a more difficult stage,” Chiang said.
He also said the two sides had reached a general consensus on the planned investment protection agreement, but still need to negotiate the details, including currency exchange, tax collection, compensation and dispute--resolution mechanisms. Both sides will continue the negotiations next week in the hope of making further progress.
“It is regretful that we are not able to sign a cross-strait investment protection agreement, but we expect both sides to address issues faced by investors across the Taiwan Strait more practically and seek consensus more actively,” he added.
Both sides had planned to sign agreements on investment protection and medical cooperation during upcoming cross-strait talks, which will be held from Monday to Wednesday, but the SEF confirmed earlier this week that the two sides will only sign a deal on medical cooperation during this round of talks.
Since the first round of cross-strait negotiations in 2008, the two sides have signed 14 agreements. Chiang said the issues will become more complicated as negotiations proceed, including a commodity trade agreement and service agreement. In response extend the signing of agreements from every six months to every year to allow more time for negotiations, he said.
The proposed accord on medical cooperation will cover several areas, including the prevention of infectious diseases, the management and development of drug safety, emergency rescue and the study of Chinese medicine and its safe management.
The planned agreement will be signed on Tuesday afternoon at the Grand Hotel after Chiang meets with Chen in the morning. Chen will arrive in Taipei with a delegation on Monday morning for the talks.
As Chiang and Chen agreed in their last meeting to simplify future talks, they will — beginning with this meeting — focus more on the negotiations and less on sightseeing. The Chinese delegation will visit the National Palace Museum on Monday and the Taipei International Flora Expo on Wednesday morning before heading back to China.
Chen is also scheduled to meet Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) on Tuesday. The two sides are expected to start talks on issues for the seventh round of cross-strait talks, such as cultural exchanges.
Asked to comment about possible protests against the talks, Chiang said the police are more than capable of handling any protests.