China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits Chairman (ARATS) Chen Deming (陳德銘) acted on what he said was the importance of direct dialogue with Taiwanese university students in the wake of the Sunflower movement and its impact on the cross-strait service trade agreement.
In the wake of the student-led Sunflower movement in March that occupied the Legislative Yuan’s main chamber for three weeks in protest against the government’s signing of the pact with China, Chen on Sunday met with about 1,000 young Taiwanese people attending a summer camp in Beijing.
“I would suggest that [the Legislative Yuan] pass the cross-strait service trade agreement as soon as possible and find solutions through regular negotiation mechanisms if problems arise. Either that, or we can temporarily suspend the deal and renegotiate it,” Chen said.
He said both sides should implement the deal because “I do not hope to see the economy of my beloved Taiwan getting marginalized.”
A student asked him if talks over the pact could be completed soon given delays due to disagreement in the legislature.
“The ball is in Taiwan’s court,” Chen said. “Even if we could finish negotiations on the pact, wouldn’t we have to wait for the bill on monitoring all cross-strait laws to pass?”
Chen said that talks on the agreement as well as on representative offices being exchanged between the two nations were ongoing, not “suspended” as has been reported.
Chen used the word “bright” to describe the prospects of peaceful exchanges between Taiwan and China, insisting that Beijing will not be deterred by “some minor issues” amid the “mainstream of historical development.”
Besides using air quality issues in China to invite Taiwanese youths to participate in China’s economic development, which “definitely includes green industries,” Chen also spoke about globalization, artificial intelligence and Beijing’s strengths and weaknesses given major global trends.
He challenged the young people to “face the mainland [China] and face the world” from the current “22K [NT$22,000] level,” which is the average starting monthly salary for new graduates in Taiwan.
He also said he is concerned that the younger generation in China, who grew up as their country’s economy was flying in the 1990s and 2000s, seem neither as ambitious nor entrepreneurial as their parents’ generation.
As he talked, a number of the students were taking notes, while others were asleep.
One who responded to his call for Taiwanese youth to take advantage of the huge and growing China market said that while the market is small, “it has its advantages, too.”
Separately yesterday, Chen said he hopes to visit Taiwan in the latter half of this year.
“I believe that the majority of people in Taiwan would welcome me,” he said.