Thu, Sep 19, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Taipei, Beijing yet to reach consensus on visitation rights

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

Taipei and Beijing have yet to reach a consensus on the visitation rights of Taiwanese detained in China amid the planned establishment of cross-strait representative offices, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said yesterday, promising to seek breakthroughs on the issue.

While updating the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Central Standing Committee about the progress made in setting up the offices, Wang said unlimited visitation rights for Taiwanese detained in China is an essential function of the nation’s planned representative office and the MAC would continue to negotiate with Beijing on the issue.

The creation of representative offices across the Taiwan Strait is a major cross-strait policy of the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). However, a draft bill on the plan failed to pass an initial legislative review amid resistance by the opposition, while some KMT lawmakers also voiced dissatisfaction with the negotiations.

Ma yesterday defended the creation of the representative offices as a practical plan amid increasing cross-strait exchanges, adding that there was no political motive behind the plan.

“The timing and conditions are ripe for the two sides to set up representative offices. There are no political implications to the plan and the functions of the offices will be basically neutral,” Ma said.

Insisting that setting up offices on each side of the Taiwan Strait is mutually beneficial, the president urged the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to address the issue rationally.

“The DPP also talked about cross-strait exchanges and Chinese tourists when it was in power and it will have to address the issue again one day if it returns to power again… The nation must move forward and the opposition should join our effort to push the creation of the offices,” he said.

The MAC said Taiwan plans to set up three representative offices in China, but that it is unlikely to allow Beijing to set up 10 offices in Taiwan.

The establishment of the cross-strait representative offices has drawn criticism from the opposition. DPP lawmakers say the move could damage the nation’s sovereignty, adding that China could use the offices as a channel for intelligence gathering.

Ma yesterday reiterated that the government would adhere to the Constitution when establishing the offices and his administration would not acknowledge the existence of the People’s Republic of China as an independent nation.

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