Taiwan and China cannot put off addressing their political differences for the long term, Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Director Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) said on Friday, adding that sidestepping politics in favor of economic talks was “unsustainable.”
Zhang said that Beijing “has the necessary patience, as well as the strong determination” to bring about Taiwan’s unification with China.
“But that does not mean waiting passively without doing anything,” he said.
Zhang made the comments in a keynote speech at the opening of the first Cross-Strait Peace Forum held in Shanghai, where he called for breakthroughs on “outstanding issues which prevent and restrict cross-strait relations from making further progress.”
He called the forum part of an effort to overcome the obstacles to making greater progress in cross-strait relations.
The Mainland Affairs Council issued a statement later on Friday denying Chang’s contention that Taiwan has sidestepped political issues in favor of economic issues.
Some of the cross-strait agreements that have been forged in the past few years had political aspects, which Taiwan’s government did not shy away from but handled in a pragmatic manner, the council said.
The government believes that “as long as there are urgent issues concerning the interests of people on the two sides, it must deal with them pragmatically,” the council said. “There is no such sidestepping of politics in favor of economics.”
Citing the ongoing cross-strait talks on the establishment of representative offices on either side as an example, the council said that the issues involved in the talks are very complicated, and some of them are politically sensitive.
The two-day forum in Shanghai focuses on four topics: the cross-strait political relationship; China and Taiwan’s external relations, security and mutual confidence; and a framework for peace.
Backing the event are Taiwan’s 21st Century Foundation, the Institute for National Policy Research, and Taiwan Brain Trust, while the Chinese organizers include the National Society of Taiwan Studies, six research institutes at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and universities in Beijing and Xiamen.