The chairman of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) will not be welcome to visit Taiwan until Beijing apologizes for the toxic milk scare it caused in Taiwan and compensates the victims and affected businesses, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday.
ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) is expected to visit Taiwan sometime next month. The exact date is uncertain.
“The toxic milk powder issue has caused great panic in Taiwan and President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) government should demand an apology and compensation from China,” said Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦), director of the DPP’s Department of Culture and Communications.
It was discovered two weeks ago that 25 tonnes of milk powder that had been imported from Sanlu Group in China in June as an ingredient for food manufacturing contained dangerously high levels of melamine.
Last week, officials discovered that some Chinese non-dairy creamers and malt extract that had been imported into Taiwan were also contaminated with the chemical, resulting in a massive recall of products on the domestic market.
Unless China apologizes and compensates Taiwanese whose health has been undermined as well as the companies that have sustained massive losses because of the tainted imports, Chen is not welcome in Taiwan, Cheng said.
DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said on Saturday that Chen owed Taiwan “many apologies,” and that it would fuel public anger if he were to visit the country amid the toxic milk powder scare.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said yesterday the DPP was trying to prevent the Chinese official from visiting Taiwan to conduct cross-strait negotiations next month.
The KMT issued a statement on behalf of party Deputy Secretary-General Chang Jung-kung (張榮恭) blasting Tsai for saying that the timing was not right for Chen to come to Taiwan next month.
Chang said Tsai’s remarks were aimed at hampering the sound development of cross-strait relations and creating a political stumbling block to negotiations.
Chang said Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and its Chinese counterpart, ARATS, were established to conduct cross-strait negotiations, setting aside cross-strait disputes over Taiwan’s sovereignty.
This has not only won the support of the Taiwanese public, but also gained recognition from the international community, he said.
Both sides of the Strait would become embroiled in fiercer political confrontation if Taiwan’s sovereignty were to become an issue during the negotiations with Chen, as Tsai had proposed, Chang said.
What the country needed was not for the two sides to stop negotiating, he said.
The former DPP administration attempted to reopen communication channels between the SEF and ARATS, but it had never proposed talks on sovereignty, Chang said.
“The DPP’s position now is that it does not want to see both sides undertake friendly interactions,” he said. “They are afraid that once the two sides develop a friendly relationship, it would diminish the maneuvering space for Taiwanese independence.”
Following SEF-ARATS talks in June this year, the second round of negotiations between the two agencies next month would help upgrade Taiwan’s competitiveness, Chang said, adding that sovereignty would not be an issue.
The DPP would only disgrace itself if it were to continue stubbornly boycotting the upcoming meeting, he said.
Concerning the tainted milk powder scandal, Chang said both sides should engage in more communications so that the problem could be properly addressed and a mechanism be established to ensure food safety.
He said it did not make sense for the DPP to oppose Chen’s visit because of the tainted milk scandal, as the SEF and ARATS planned to include food safety in the agenda of next month’s meeting.
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