The government should adopt a strategic mindset and not set a timetable for the proposed establishment of representative offices on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to avoid potential risks, several members of the Mainland Affairs Council’s Advisory Committee said.
The committee members made the call at a routine meeting on Thursday last week, amid speculations that Taipei and Beijing are pushing for an agreement on the establishment of cross-strait representative offices to be signed by the end of the year.
During the meeting, the council first briefed the committee on the progress in negotiations, arrangements and law amendments for opening representative offices on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
The council also cited the results of a survey it had conducted to gauge public opinion on the closely watched proposal, saying that more than 70 percent of respondents were in favor of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) setting up a representative office in China because the move could assist the foundation in fulfilling its functions and duties.
In light of the complexity and political sensitivity of the proposal, the council said it had set up an inter-ministerial taskforce to formulate a comprehensive implementation plan and carry out research on relevant matters.
“We have also drafted a bill stipulating regulations for the establishment of representative offices by the Chinese organization tasked with handling cross-strait affairs in Taiwan and has referred it to the legislature for review,” the council said.
In response to committee members’ advice, the council said the government would take into account public opinion and would conduct open and transparent dialogues with people from all sectors of society about the proposal.
“In the meantime, the council will continue to seek opinions from academics and related organizations, while holding more forums in the future to solicit different opinions,” the council said.
Saying that the establishment of cross-strait representative offices could serve as an important indication of the institutionalization of cross-strait ties, committee members urged the council to lay out short, medium and long-term goals for the policy and how to achieve them step by step.
They also called for healthy communication among legislators across party lines and mutual support between the administrative and the legislative branches of government over the proposal, for the sake of the nation’s interests.
Turning to the functions of such representative offices, committee members said one of the major functions of these offices is to issue travel documents and that the government should push for more services for people on both sides of the strait at the offices.
The foundation’s representative office in China should also build an interactive mechanism for and a complementary partnership with China-based Taiwanese businesspeople in an effort to maximize its functions, committee members said.