Fri, Dec 19, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Use of term ‘ROC’ holds up cases in China

WHAT’S IN A NAME?It was said China has refused to accept legal documents that imply a sovereign Taiwan. The SEF and MAC claim the three incidents are isolated cases

By Lo Tien-pin, Hsian Cheng-chen and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Judicial documents issued by Taiwanese courts connected to three civil suits involving Chinese nationals were rejected by Chinese courts on grounds that they contain terms that imply the sovereignty of Taiwan, government sources said.

The documents were delivered to inform Chinese courts of judicial decisions concerning Chinese nationals in compliance with the terms of the Agreement on Jointly Cracking Down on Crime and Mutual Legal Assistance Across the Strait (海峽兩岸共同打擊犯罪及司法互助協議), signed in April 2009, which aims to provide a channel to address the legal claims of citizens on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Documents involved in at least three civil suits have been sent back by Chinese courts recently because they contain the terms“the Republic of China (ROC)” or “our nation” (我國), the sources said.

The sources said that Chinese courts were refusing to cooperate with the terms of the agreement, adding the cases concerned were civil suits regarding divorce and inheritance.

The Chinese courts said the use of terms that indicate national sovereignty can easily lead to the misconception that relations between Taiwan and China are on a “nation-to-nation” basis — or, in the words of former president Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) “special state-to-state relations” (兩國論) — and China said it is unable to accept legal documentation from Taiwan bearing such terms, the sources said.

In a 1999 interview with German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Lee said that Taiwan and China were engaged in special state-to-state relations following Taiwan’s 1991 constitutional amendment.

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) is dealing with the issue, and aims to resolve the problem in talks with China’s Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and the Chinese Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), the sources said.

Although there is a three-month window in which official complaints must be heard, there are a significant amount of complaints that have not yet been heard in the Chinese courts, the sources added.

The Judicial Yuan asked the MAC and the SEF to initiate negotiations with the ARATS on the issue a year ago, but it has yet to receive word of a solution, Department of Judicial Administration Director-General Huang Kuo-chung (黃國忠) said on Wednesday.

In response, both the SEF and the MAC said that the refusal by Chinese courts to receive legal documents were isolated cases.

“We would continue to stress the independence of Taiwan’s judiciary and impress upon the Chinese side the necessity of seeing through the implementation of the agreement to better maintain the rights and benefits of the people on both sides of the strait,” government officials said.

The MAC said that from the ratification of the agreement through last month, there have been more than 61,500 legal documents exchanged between Taiwan and China concerning investigation and evidence retrieval, as well as 48,600 documents concerning legal complaints.

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