People on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should rise above their differences and seek cooperation when dealing with foreign affairs, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Wang Yi (王毅) said yesterday, in a call that received a lukewarm response from Taipei.
According to reports by the China-based China News Service, Wang made the remark during his speech at the first Yunnan-Taiwan Economic and Cultural Seminar held in Kunming, China, yesterday.
Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and former KMT vice chairman Lin Fong-cheng (林豐正) attended the symposium.
“More than six decades ago, when the Chinese Expeditionary Force [during the Second Sino-Japanese War] fought against the Japanese aggressors in Western Yunnan, [their fortitude and bravery] were so magnificent and touching that [they] were etched in history and in the common memory of the people on both sides,” Wang said.
Wang said that whatever complex issues lie between people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, they should transcend their differences and work together in defending the fundamental and overall interests of the Chinese people.
In the face of the profound international changes, Wang also called on people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to act in the interest of ensuring the prosperity of the Chinese people, ensuring the peaceful development of cross-strait ties and maintaining regional stability.
Wang’s comments came amid an escalating territorial dispute over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), a resource-rich island group in the East China Sea claimed by Taiwan and China, as well as Japan, which calls them the Senkaku Islands. The dispute heated up after the Japanese government paid ￥2.05 billion (US$26 million) for three of the islands in the chain on Tuesday last week in an effort to nationalize the archipelago.
The move prompted an angry rebuke from the Chinese government, which accused Japan of “playing with fire,” galvanizing a new wave of anti-Japan sentiment and demonstrations in several cities across China over the past few days.
However, Wang’s proposal did not appear to be welcome by his Taiwanese counterpart, as Mainland Affairs Council Minister Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) reiterated yesterday her stance on Sept. 9 during a visit to London that Taiwan would not cooperate with China on the issue.
“The Republic of China has indisputable sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands. In light of the long-running sovereignty dispute across the Taiwan Strait, the idea of cross-strait cooperation to resolve the territorial row is unseemly,” Lai said.