The government’s proposed establishment of representative offices on both sides of the Taiwan Strait is highly political and definitely concerns sovereignty, so the government should not proceed with it before a national consensus is reached, former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said in a statement on Saturday.
Tsai, a former Mainland Affairs Council minister, questioned whether there were political motives behind President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration and China discussing opening representative offices on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
Tsai said it would be impossible to avoid sovereignty issues in the negotiations on the proposal.
The government should not handle sovereignty issues with an ambiguous position and cause irreparable damage to Taiwan’s sovereignty, the former chairperson added.
She added that the proposal is highly political and the status of officials in China’s representative office in Taiwan would affect sovereignty and national security, meriting comprehensive evaluation and public debate.
Tsai said the Cabinet’s plan to offer immunity and privileges to China’s representative office would make it almost equal to the status of consulates under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and questioned whether Taiwan’s representative office in China would enjoy the same treatment.
Tsai called for the government to discuss the issue with opposition parties and the public.
The Cabinet on Thursday approved a draft bill governing the establishment of representative offices on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
Under the bill, China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) branches in Taiwan and staff at the offices would be granted certain special rights to allow them to carry out their duties without legal interference.
Included in the special rights are provisions that no one can enter the branches without the permission of those offices; their property and assets would be immune from search, confiscation or expropriation; and documents and archives would be inviolable.
The bill stipulates that Chinese staff at the ARATS offices in Taiwan would enjoy immunity from Taiwan’s jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters in the exercise of their duties, and would have certain tax exemptions and other privileges to be decided at the discretion of the Cabinet.