Tue, Mar 12, 2013 - Page 3 News List

ARATS, TAO to get new heads: report

Staff writer, with CNA

Two Chinese officials who are experienced in their respective fields — politics and economics — are likely to take charge of the Chinese agencies responsible for dealing with Taiwan, a Hong Kong-based newspaper reported.

Chinese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) is tipped to become the next director of the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), and Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming (陳德銘) is likely to head the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), the Hong Kong Commercial Daily said.

The potential appointments are seen as an attempt by the Chinese government to address both political and economic issues involving the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, the paper said.

Zhang has led or served as the deputy head of several Chinese government agencies dealing with foreign policy issues involving the Americas, Oceania and Europe since 1975. He also served in China’s embassy in the UK.

In 2009, Zhang became China’s deputy foreign minister and was elected last year to the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party at the party’s 18th National Congress.

Zeng Runmei (曾潤梅), an official with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the newspaper that dealing with issues involving just Taiwan and China are easy to handle.

However, cross-strait relations become particularly complicated when they involve issues related to Taiwan’s participation in the international community, Zeng said.

It is critical to have someone with a broad global vision take charge of the TAO to continue to improve ties between the two sides, Zeng said.

Chen’s economic background will serve him well if he succeeds ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), who is likely to retire soon, Zeng said.

“Deepening economic and trade ties between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait is a very important task for the ARATS in the next few years, so it is critical to have someone whose expertise lies in such areas,” Zeng said in the report.

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