Sun, Apr 03, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Committee cancels SEF head’s final trip to China

By Peng Hsien-chun  /  Staff reporter

Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Lin Join-sane (林中森) is to cancel his final trip to China in accordance with a Legislative Yuan resolution, the foundation said on Friday.

The statement came as a response to the Legislative Yuan’s Internal Administration Committee, which on Thursday passed a resolution forbidding Lin from traveling abroad or using the foundation’s funds without approval.

Lin was scheduled to meet with China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) Chairman Chen Deming (陳德銘) and visit Shanghai, Kunshan, Xiamen and other cities from Wednesday.

The seven-day trip sparked criticism due to reports that it would “burn through” a majority of the foundation’s annual travel budget just two months before Lin’s term expires.

Cross-strait exchanges have been in the spotlight since China re-established diplomatic ties with the Gambia last month, in a move that was interpreted as an end to a “diplomatic truce” under which Beijing refrained from “poaching” nations with whom Taiwan has formal diplomatic ties.

The Mainland Affairs Council, to which the foundation reports, on Thursday said that it reminded the foundation of the need to explain the visit to the Legislative Yuan to secure its approval, adding that it would respect the Internal Administration Committee’s veto.

Foundation spokesman Chou Jih-shine (周繼祥) said the foundation would respect the committee’s decision and cancel the trip, despite the short notice.

He said that the resolution’s clear injunction against using travel funds was the main reason the trip was canceled, even though Lin feels the resolution was directed at himself.

The Taiwanese delegation was originally scheduled to include five other representatives in a trip which would have been Lin’s 43rd since taking office in September 2012.

Lin recently sparked controversy over reports that he has sought to raise funds to establish a Chinese People’s Foundation (中華民族基金會), which would serve as an alternative to the semi-official foundation representing Taiwanese business interests after Democratic Progressive Party president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) takes office on May 20.

Chou said that the foundation had already notified ARATS, which told them to “stay in touch.”

When asked whether the trip’s cancelation would influence cross-straits ties, Chou said that legislators were clear about what they were doing when they passed the resolution, adding that the foundation has no further comment.

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