Sun, Jan 22, 2017 - Page 3 News List

China side holding back cross-strait ties, sources say

By Lin Liang-sheng  /  Staff reporter

Chinese officials have been stalling meetings on cross-strait cooperation with their Taiwanese counterparts since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) assumed office in May last year, hindering collaboration, officials familiar with the issue said yesterday.

During former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) term, Taipei and Beijing signed 23 agreements to promote collaboration in the areas of travel, air and sea freight, postal services, economy and finance, food safety, nuclear energy and curbing criminal activities, of which 21 took effect before Tsai took office.

Despite Tsai’s pledge to retain the agreements and China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun’s (張志軍) statement that no changes would be made, Chinese officials have been delaying meetings that were mandated by the agreements, citing an “unpleasant atmosphere,” said the officials, who declined to be named.

At present, the only agreement that is proceeding normally is the postal service agreement, with the lack of progress a blow for Tsai’s policy of maintaining the “status quo” across the Taiwan Strait, the officials said.

As Chinese officials have delayed a majority of meetings with their Taiwanese counterparts, the only viable channels for cross-strait communication have become the telephone and the fax, they said.

As a result, they said that officials on both sides have worked out an alternative to addressing issues concerning people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait: Talking to one another on the sidelines of international seminars.

Since Tsai took office, China has been sending lower-level officials to attend meetings held in Taiwan, while the levels of officials tasked by Tsai’s administration with meeting Chinese officials have remained the same as in the Ma administration, sources said.

However, due to a restriction imposed by Beijing, high-ranking officials, such as ministers, deputy ministers and secretary-generals for the central government, are barred from attending meetings in China, sources said, adding that the Mainland Affairs Council bears the brunt of the restriction, as only division heads or lower-ranked officials are allowed to visit China.

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