Taiwanese and Chinese officials yesterday prepared for the 10th round of cross-strait talks in Taipei, at which agreements on meteorological exchanges and earthquake monitoring are expected to be signed today.
Security measures for the high-level talks were beefed up, as the Chinese representatives from the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) were greeted by protests staged by pro-Taiwan independence groups and other activists.
During a tour of the National Palace Museum in Taipei yesterday afternoon, ARATS Chairman Chen Deming (陳德銘) and accompanying Chinese officials were met by members of the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), the 908 Taiwan Republic Campaign and other pro-Taiwan organizations.
The encounter became tense as protesters clashed with police as they sought to break past the security barriers.
Officials said the meteorological pact will not cover air pollution control, which is an issue of growing concern among Taiwanese.
That area of expertise falls under the Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) auspices, rather than the Central Weather Bureau, the sole Taiwanese government agency involved in the cross-strait pact that will be finalized in the latest round if talks, according to the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF).
“The issue [of air pollution control] is not part of the bureau’s responsibilities,” SEF Deputy Chairman Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀) said after the preparatory meeting yesterday.
At today’s talks, cross-strait officials will decide whether air pollution control should be put on the agenda for the next high-level meeting between the two sides, Chang said. However, he said that the officials have been paying a lot of attention to air quality monitoring for the past two years.
Pollutants blowing across the Taiwan Strait from China have been increasingly affecting Taiwan’s air quality, the EPA said.
Whenever a cold air mass from China approaches, the air quality in Taiwan almost always deteriorates, and that air pollution from China has reached Taiwan seven times since November last year, according to EPA data.
Under the terms of the meteorology and seismic data pacts, the two sides will organize their own task forces and begin convening meetings on data-sharing, personnel exchanges and technological cooperation in related fields.
Both Taiwan and China have endured devastating natural disasters, Chang said, saying that the new pacts will allow both sides to work closely on a regular basis and react promptly in the event of an emergency.