PRC warns DPP over trade deals

RISKY BUSINESS?:Chen Yunlin yesterday warned that if the current political basis for cross-strait talks is abandoned, relations will be seriously damaged and deals lost

Reuters, BEIJING

Fri, Oct 21, 2011 - Page 3

Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) issued a veiled warning yesterday to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that landmark trade deals signed over the past few years were at risk if the DPP did not change its stance.

China has made little secret of its distaste for the DPP ahead of January’s presidential and legislative elections, even as DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), the party’s presidential candidate, tries to lay out a more moderate line.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has signed a series of economic and tourist agreements with Beijing since becoming president in 2008.

Chen told the latest round of bilateral economic talks in Tianjin, China, that progress made so far should be preserved.

“A basic condition for having gone down today’s path of peaceful development is that both sides have established mutual trust on a joint political basis,” the China News Service quoted him as saying. “If this political basis is abandoned, not only will it be hard for cross-strait talks to continue, relations will also be seriously damaged and the results that have been attained will be lost.”

The Ma administration’s push for closer economic ties with China reached a milestone last year with the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) trade deal that cut import tariffs on about 800 items.

Cross-investment agreements for the financial and high-tech industries are also eyed further down the track.

The seventh round of high-level talks between Taiwan and China opened in Tianjin yesterday.

Chen and Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) were originally expected to sign an investment protection pact at the current round of talks, but because the two sides have failed to iron out long-standing differences on certain provisions of the agreement, only a nuclear safety pact was signed yesterday.

Xinhua news agency reported that the two sides agreed to cooperate on nuclear safety, promising to swiftly share details on accidents and to swap experiences on best practices, and the management and regulation of plants.

China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control and it has also warned any attempt to formally announce independence would lead to war.

Chen said that the past three years “proved that peaceful development of cross-strait ties is the correct choice and ... what the people want.”

“We believe that compatriots on both sides of the Strait will cherish this hard-won situation, will maintain the basis of mutual trust and will chart a new course for the peaceful development of relations,” he said.

Tsai has said an administration led by her would pursue a “balanced, stable and moderate” policy toward China, shying away from the party’s previous strong anti-China words.

However, the Chinese government has repeatedly accused Tsai of still seeking Taiwan’s independence.

Additional reporting by CNA