China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) yesterday said the next round of cross-strait talks could address the issue of setting up offices across the Taiwan Strait, a move aimed at facilitating cross-strait exchanges as the two sides seek to engage in bilateral cooperation in a broader range of aspects.
“We are willing to continue trading opinions [with the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF)] concerning the setting up of representative offices. Hopefully, we will address the issue in our next meeting,” he said when meeting with Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairperson Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) yesterday afternoon at the Grand Hyatt Taipei.
The SEF and the ARATS have been discussing the possibility of setting up offices on both sides of the Strait to handle cross-strait issues, but the two organizations denied having any timetable for the establishment of offices.
During the hour-and-a-half long meeting, Lai called on China to recognize “the feelings of Taiwanese” and respect Taiwan’s efforts to participate in various international organizations or activities in order to continue to promote cross-strait development.
“Many Taiwanese still have deep concerns [about cross-strait development], and it is important to acknowledge their concerns as part of the foundation for mutual trust across the Taiwan Strait,” Lai said.
“The unfair treatment Taiwanese have received when taking part in international events has often resulted in confrontation and negative responses, which would damage the achievements of deepening cross-strait relations,” she said.
When asked whether the Bruce Chung (鍾鼎邦) case was mentioned in the meeting, Lai failed to give a direct answer, while insisting that the government has raised the issue with Beijing several times since June 19 and called for his release.
“The government continues to pay attention to the case and calls on the mainland to solve the issue via existing and regular mechanisms,” she said.
Chung, a Taiwanese Falun Gong practitioner and businessman, has been detained in China since June 18 for what Chinese authorities have said was his jeopardizing of their national security.
Lai also raised the issue of China’s military deployments targeting Taiwan and repeated the government’s call for China to remove missiles aimed across the Strait.
Chen said he agreed that recognizing public opinion in both countries is crucial for maintaining cross-strait relations, while expressing confidence about the continuing peaceful development of bilateral ties.
Chen and the ARATS delegation later met with former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰) at night in a private gathering at the hotel. The delegation will return to China today.