The government has decided to bar Chinese academics who also hold government office from attending a Taipei conference designed for local pan-blue and pan-green academics as well as academics from China, to narrow their differences on a wide range of issues, the organizers said yesterday.
This resulted in the conference being postponed for two weeks.
Officials of the Chinese Integration Association, which is organizing the event at National Taiwan University, said Wang Zaixi (王在希), who is also vice president of Beijing’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), and Yu Jing (于京), a director of ARATS, have been denied permission to attend.
However, “pure” academics such as Yu Keli (余克禮), director of the Institute of Taiwan Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, have been allowed to attend, they said.
Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) officials declined to answer media inquiries as to whether this would set a precedent for future applications by Chinese academics seeking to visit Taiwan to take part in academic conferences.
According to the MAC officials, they were merely “offering views and suggestions” to the country’s immigration authorities, who are “ultimately responsible” for deciding whether or not to grant entry to individuals.
The National Immigration Agency said that since the MAC is the “supervising authority” on China affairs, it respects its suggestions. The conference organizers also said that during a joint meeting of MAC and immigration officials, MAC officials said they did not like the words “identity” and “mutual trust” as set forth in the conference theme — “strengthening identity and mutual trust, and entrenching peaceful development.”
The MAC demanded that the organizers change those two words, the organizers said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The organizers said they were frustrated by the MAC decision to both bar certain Chinese academics from coming and to demand a change of conference theme.
The MAC demand was “unreasonable,” as the Chinese Integration Association is trying to set the stage for Taiwan’s pan-blue and pan-green academics to meet their Chinese counterparts at a time when the Democratic Progressive Party, the mainstream of the pan-green camp, has recently stated its intent to “strengthen its understanding of China,” the organizers said.
They added that their decision at present was to postpone the conference, initially slated for tomorrow and Saturday, for two weeks. Between 150 and 180 academics, including more than 50 from China, have been invited to attend.