The first official meeting between the heads of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) and the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) is to take place sometime after the Lunar New Year, which falls on Jan. 30, sources said yesterday.
MAC Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) and TAO Director Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) first met in October when they sat in on talks between former vice president Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) on the sidelines of the APEC meetings in Bali, Indonesia.
During the meeting, both addressed each other using their formal titles and talked about the establishment of a mechanism for the regular exchange of visits by the two heads in charge regarding affairs of the other side.
After discussing the issue for some time, both sides reached the consensus that Wang would visit China first.
That arrangement was based on the considerations that it may be less controversial in Taiwan for Zhang to pay a reciprocal visit after Wang goes to China.
The meeting is likely to be held sometime after the Lunar New Year and before the next round of regular meetings between the Straits Exchange Foundation and its Chinese counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits.
To prevent the meeting from being interpreted as overly politically, it will not be held in China’s capital, Beijing, sources said, adding that the exact time and itinerary will have to be worked out by both sides.
Also, as Wang could call on Taiwanese doing business or studying in China, the venue could be Jiangsu Province or Guangzhou, or cities in China where a lot of Taiwanese businesspeople converge, sources said.
Top of the agenda for the Wang-Zhang meeting could be the exchange of representative offices on either side of the Taiwan Strait, according to the sources, although they added that if Beijing brings up the issue of embarking on cross-strait political talks, Taipei would stress that the agenda should be composed only of issues that both sides are willing to discuss.
If Chinese officials raise political issues, “Taiwanese officials will only discuss them if the issues are in keeping with public’s will and its needs,” the source said.