Former vice president Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) yesterday received positive feedback from Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) over his three-point vision for cross-strait development during the pair’s closely-watched meeting on economic, trade and industrial cooperation between both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
Siew met Xi at noon at the Boao State Guesthouse in Hainan Province, China, where the 11th annual Boao Forum for Asia is underway.
The 50-minute meeting, which took 20 minutes longer than expected, saw Xi take group pictures with members of the Taiwanese delegation.
According to a transcript of Siew’s conversation at the gathering issued by the Cross-straits Common Market Foundation — which he established in 2001 — Siew proposed a three-point vision for cross-strait development based on which he said both sides of the Taiwan Strait could jointly seek economic breakthroughs.
Both sides should jointly address the rapid economic integration of the Asia-Pacific region, address the issue of Taiwan’s participation in regional trade agreements in a reasonable and fair manner and join hands to seek mutual interest and prosperity, Siew said.
Siew said regional economic integration had not only become a global trend, but also represents the tenets and spirit that the Boao Forum for Asia has been advocating.
“The experiences and value of Taiwan’s economic developments are supposed to be an ‘asset’ rather than a ‘liability’ for Asia’s regional economic integration. Taiwan should actively participate in rather than be absent from the integration process,” a press release quoted Siew as saying following the meeting.
It quoted Xi as responding to the call by saying: “[We will] endeavor to strengthen cross-strait communication and coordination, explore possible ways in which [Taiwan] could participate [in regional integration] and make arrangements in the hope of affording Taiwan’s economic development new vigor and dynamics.”
In addition to calling for cross-strait participation in regional economic integration, Siew also expressed hope that both sides of the Taiwan Strait could develop a common vision.
Siew said both sides should further cross-strait policy coordination and deliberation on economic strategies to achieve closer ties that could facilitate the economic readjustment and industrial transition on both sides.
“Through the platform of the cross-strait business summit [in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province’,] we will also strive to intensify and implement strategies and concrete measures for cross-strait economic cooperation,” Siew was quoted by the press release as saying.
Xi reportedly responded positively to Siew’s proposal.
Siew said that to create a common vision, both sides must expedite follow-up negotiations on the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) and sign a cross-strait services agreement at the earliest possible date.
Turning to a ban on Chinese tourists transferring through Taiwan, Siew said that while direct cross-strait flights have provided great convenience to people traveling across the Strait, the ban has seen Chinese tourists transferring through South Korea and Japan instead and has cost Taiwan numerous business opportunities.
“Considering that Taiwanese tourists are permitted to transfer flights through China, we should also lift the ban, which would not only uphold the principle of reciprocity and equality, but also signify our willingness to abide by cross-strait agreements,” Siew said.
Siew concluded the meeting by saying that peaceful cross-strait development should be achieved by expanding the two sides’ common interests on the basis of mutual trust and forgiveness.
“I hope both sides can jointly face new global challenges, create a common vision, join forces with other nations in the Asia-Pacific region and endeavor to revitalize the Zhonghua minzu [中華民族, Chinese ethnic group],” Siew said.
In response to the meeting, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said it welcomes China’s active role in promoting regional peace and hoped that it would maintain that mentality in dealing with cross-strait affairs and controversies related to the South China Sea, Department of China Affairs director Honigmann Hong (洪財隆) said.
“However, peace should never be just a pet phrase and empty rhetoric and China must prove that it practices what it preaches,” Hong said.
“Peace without democracy and human rights is unreal and as fragile as a sandcastle,” he added.
Regarding Taiwan’s participation in regional economic integration, Hong said it could “very well be just a wishful thinking” by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration.
Former Chinese president Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) spoke of joint economic cooperation and Taiwan’s economic integration in 2008 and Ma also pledged it as a feasible goal when Taiwan and China signed the ECFA, but that goal never materialized, Hong said.
China has kept up its efforts to squeeze Taiwan out of its international space in the past years, Hong said.