President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that plans for the first official meeting between the heads of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) and the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) next year was a positive development for cross-strait relations and could see the two sides break a negotiations deadlock.
MAC Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) and TAO Director Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) are to meet in an official capacity after the Lunar New Year holidays in February. They first met in October, when they sat in on talks between former vice president Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Indonesia.
“The government has been calling on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait not to deny each other’s authority to govern [Taiwan], while not recognizing each other’s sovereignty. It’s a positive development for the officials handling cross-strait affairs to meet with each other,” Ma, who doubles as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman, said while presiding over a meeting of the KMT’s Central Standing Committee.
As negotiations on the establishment of representative offices on each side have reached a stalemate on issues such as visitation rights for Taiwanese detained in China, the meeting between Wang and Zhang should seek to establish consensuses on the sticking points and further promote cross-strait exchanges, Ma said.
“If the two sides cannot resolve smaller issues, it will be difficult to make breakthroughs on more serious political matters. The face-to-face communication between the two officials should help resolve these things, and we should react normally to such meetings,” Ma said.
During a report presented yesterday on cross-strait relations following the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th National Congress, Wang said that he would unveil the details of his meeting with Zhang soon.
The Wang-Zhang meeting is to be held in China before the next round of regular meetings between the Straits Exchange Foundation and its Chinese counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, Wang said.
In the report, Wang said that China has been pressing Taiwan through various cross-strait forums to hold political talks and said China could use its declaration of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over an area of the East China Sea to promote the establishment of military confidence-building measures between the two sides.
The government stresses the importance of the 1992 consensus as the foundation for cross-strait relations, for handling sovereignty issues and to deepen economic and cultural exchanges, he said.
Ma said that Taiwan will not avoid cross-strait political issues, adding that the time was not right for political talks with China.
He said the signing of bilateral agreements and the proposed establishment of cross-strait representative offices carried some political significance.
“It depends on whether there are urgent issues to be discussed. For example, we’ve called on China to engage in dialogue with concerned parties regarding its ADIZ and we won’t exclude the possibility of including the issue in cross-strait negotiations,” he said.