The political connotations of the trip to Taiwan by China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) cannot be overlooked, a major daily in Singapore said on Friday.
The Chinese-language Lianhe Zaobao said in an editorial that Zhang was the most senior Chinese official of Taiwan affairs to visit the nation and that a consensus reached by Zhang and Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) in a meeting on Wednesday had clear political implications.
The two agreed to include humanitarian visits of detainees among the functions of proposed representative offices in each other’s territory, which would be tantamount to a political opening, the paper said, because quasi-government authorities would then operate in territories ruled by the other side.
The humanitarian visits by a representative office’s officials would also be akin to consular affairs, the paper said.
The editorial said that this development and its political connotations are in line with the nation’s long-term advocacy of “cross-strait parity.”
It said that since student-led protests broke out against a cross-strait service trade agreement in March, China has become more flexible in making concessions, which could be favorable to formal political negotiations between the two sides and also signals China’s confidence in the peaceful development of cross-strait ties.
The editorial also said that the US is uneasy about China’s political offensive in wooing Taiwan, citing a statement made by former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Clinton urged the nation to weigh its openness to China and warned that closer ties could hurt its economic independence and political autonomy.
The editorial also said that Beijing has extended an olive branch to Taiwan by responding to the nation’s appeal for political parity.
Facing such an offensive, Taiwan must forge a national consensus to safeguard its own identity, the editorial said.