Negotiations between Taiwan and China on an investment protection agreement have been postponed due to differences over crucial details, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said on Thursday.
The eighth round of institutionalized talks between Taiwan and China will not be held this month as scheduled because the two sides have not yet hammered out the details of how to implement the investment protection pact, the council said.
The council declined to reveal the thorny issues that have caused the deadlock, but there have been reports that they have to do with Taiwan’s request for more comprehensive protections for its businesspeople and an international arbitration mechanism to handle disputes.
Enforcement of the investment agreement would require an amendment to China’s domestic laws, which could take some time for both sides to “digest,” Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) said on Wednesday.
Although both sides have agreed to establish a 24-hour notification system in case of arrests of Taiwanese investors in China, according to China’s criminal procedure law, exemptions do exist when the crime is deemed to be related to national security or terrorist acts.
In addition, Taiwan’s push for an international arbitration mechanism could hit a snag because China fears such a mechanism would tacitly acknowledge Taiwan’s sovereignty.
However, deputy head of the MAC Deputy Minister Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) said the two sides will try to hold the next meeting as soon as possible because there is some common ground.
“The meeting will not be postponed indefinitely,” Liu said.
He said the council is not considering separating the investment agreement from the customs cooperation pact to speed up the negotiations.
The council announced last week that Taiwan and China were in the final stages of negotiating the customs pact, which is expected to expedite customs clearance in trade between the two sides.
Xinhua reported that China’s State Council has approved the establishment of San Sha City (三沙市) in Hainan province to better administer Spratly Islands (南沙群島), the Paracel Islands (西沙群島), Macclesfield Bank (中沙群島) and their surrounding waters.
According to the agency, San Sha City will be established at Yongxing Island (永興島), the largest of the Paracel Islands, where China has set up a military garrison.
In response to the move, Manila has reiterated the Philippine government’s claims to the territories.