In a rare move, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government refused to allow entry to Chinese officials — Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) Vice Chairman Wang Zaixi (王在希) and his entourage — on the grounds that the stated reason and timing for their visits were inappropriate.
Sources said Wang had planned to attend the Taipei Forum on Friday and Saturday as the head of a group of 30 Chinese officials.
Because the forum’s stated purpose was “discussing how to stabilize peaceful cross-strait relations through the development of mutual trust” and to potentially accelerate political dialogue across the Taiwan Strait, sources said the Chinese participants were refused visas because it would take the focus away from economic issues to be discussed in upcoming bilateral talks.
The forum could have a negative impact on President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) policy of “economics first, politics later,” the source said, suggesting that the National Immigration Agency had probably received instructions from higher up.
The eighth round of economy-centric cross-strait talks between Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Chiang Ping-kung (江丙坤) and ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) would clash with the politically sensitive Taipei forum, the source said, adding that the forum planned for this week has been canceled.
National Taiwan University professor Chang Ya-chung (張亞中) organized the forum, which invited representatives of almost all major think tanks across the Taiwan Strait.
Invitees included Chinese representatives from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Chunghua Culture Promotion Society and the Center for Studies on Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, as well as Taiwanese representatives from the Foundation on Asia-Pacific Peace Studies, the 21st Century Foundation, the Taiwanese Political Science Association, the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy and the World Leadership Education Foundation.
Because several of the think tanks invited to the forum serve a dual purpose as peripheral organizations to the governments in Taiwan and China, the forum sparked speculation as to its potential ramifications for cross-strait politics.
Besides Wang’s affiliation with the People’s Liberation Army, other members of the Chinese delegation, including Yu Keli (余克禮), who is affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of State Security, were members of renowned Chinese think tanks.
The Chinese delegation had originally included Huang Jiashu (黃嘉樹), secretary-general of the National Society of Taiwan Studies, Yen Chun (嚴峻), deputy dean of Tsinghua University’s law school in Beijing and Yen Anlin (嚴安林), assistant to the director of Xiamen University’s Taiwan Affairs Research Center and Li Peng (李鵬), a person with the same name as the former Chinese premier.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer