ARATS visit would be welcomed, deputy minister says

Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, Apr 01, 2017 - Page 3

The government on Thursday said it welcomes a visit by China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) Chairman Chen Deming (陳德銘) to discuss matters of mutual concern as part of an effort to promote mutually beneficial cross-strait interaction.

“Our position on working to resume normal communications with China’s Taiwan Affairs Office and ARATS remains unchanged,” Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said.

Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Tien Hung-mao (田弘茂) has extended an invitation to Chen, who told reporters in Boao, China, last Saturday that he could accept the invitation only in his capacity as “the authorized delegate of one of two institutions from a separately-ruled, but single country.”

“I cannot possibly go [to Taiwan] as a foreigner,” Chen said in response to a reporter’s question.

He said he wished Tien would give him an opportunity to visit Taiwan — as he would like to visit Kinmen and Taiwan proper, and enjoy Taiwan’s famous Yonghe soybean milk and deep-fried dough sticks — but “I know it is unlikely.”

Not unlikely as long as he visits Taiwan in his capacity as head of ARATS, recognizes the Republic of China as a sovereign state and views cross-strait ties as just cross-strait ties and nothing else, Chiu said.

Chen said he could not accept Tien’s invitation because the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has declined to accept the so-called “1992 consensus” as the sole political foundation for cross-strait exchanges.

The “1992 consensus” — a term former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) admitted to making up in 2000 — refers to a tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party that both sides acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.

“We have all along taken an attitude of not imposing preconditions and taken a mutually respectful, open-minded and innovative approach” to bridging differences between the two sides and finding common ground for cooperation, Chiu said.