The signing of the two latest deals with China is a signal of positive prospects for cross-strait development during President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) second term, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tung Kuo-yu (董國猷) said yesterday.
Tung made the remarks in a question-and-answer session during a meeting at which government officials briefed diplomats on the Cross-Strait Investment Protection Agreement and the Cross-Strait Customs Cooperation Agreement, which were signed during the eighth rounds of cross-strait talks held in Taipei earlier this month.
Spanish Chamber of Commerce Director-General Borja Rengifo asked how Taiwan and China were able to strike the deal with negotiations that he presumed had “a high degree of difficulty.”
Tung replied that “cross-strait relations have been institutionalized” through the signing of a total of 18 agreements covering various aspects of cross-strait engagement since Ma took office in 2008.
“We think that it could consolidate the foundation upon which cross-strait relations will continue to move forward healthily and positively,” Tung said.
Hungarian Acting Representative to Taiwan Robert Fule was interested in the connection between articles regarding Taiwanese businesspeople’s rights included in the investment protection agreement as an appendix, as well as the Vienna Convention emphasized by the government.
Yu Hsiu-tuan (俞秀端), deputy director-general of the Ministry of Justice’s Department of International and Cross-Strait Affairs, said the agreement would provide better protection to Taiwanese investors based in China than the notification obligation under the Vienna Convention, which requires notification of a foreign national’s consulate upon arrest.
Under the cross-strait agreement, if a Taiwanese person is arrested, China is required to inform an individual, a company the detainee works for, or a member of their family within 24 hours of the detention.
Taiwan insisted on including the notification system because the legal systems on either side of the Strait are not entirely compatible, as well as the differences between Taiwan and China on human rights, Yu said.
Issues of concern to the diplomatic corps included how to enforce the dispute-settlement mechanism, under which a dispute could be arbitrated in a third country with the consent of the concerned parties in Taiwan and China, the official said.
Investment Commission Executive Secretary-General Fan Liang-tung (范良棟) at the Ministry of Economic Affairs said Taiwan and China “went beyond the general practices in international agreements” because they included disputes between private parties in the agreement, in addition to simply addressing private-to-government and government-to-government disputes.
Currently, disputes between private parties can only be settled at Chinese arbitration agencies, Fan said.
“In the future, these could go to Taiwanese arbitration institutions. The arbitration could be conducted in a third location if both sides agree,” he said.