Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kun (江丙坤) yesterday dismissed media reports that there were political reasons behind the selection of Chongqing as the location for inking the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA).
Chiang also dismissed media speculation that the signing of the ECFA was deliberately timed to coincide with the seventh anniversary of the signing of Hong Kong’s Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) with China.
“We’ve hoped to complete the signing of important agreements in the first half of the year,” Chiang said.
The Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) on Monday reported on the choice of Chongqing as the venue for the signing. It was the then-Chinese Nationalist Party administration’s (KMT) provisional capital during its war with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) before the KMT fled to Taiwan and it was where the two once signed a peace agreement. The report said the selection of Chongqing as the location to sign the ECFA suggested the KMT agreed with the CCP’s stance that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are awaiting “reunification.”
Dismissing the report during a trip to a historic pottery town with Beijing’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) on Monday afternoon, Chiang said Chongqing CCP Secretary Bo Xilai (薄熙來) previously invited him to hold the fifth round of cross-strait talks in Chongqing.
“I thought we, the guests, might as well follow the host’s wishes,” Chiang said, adding that the choice did not have any special political significance.
Chiang later yesterday met with China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Director Wang Yi (王毅), who described the signing of the ECFA between Taiwan and China yesterday a major development and a milestones in the development of cross-strait peace.
Wang congratulated Chiang on the signing and told him and other SEF officials that the ECFA is expected to help both sides across the Taiwan Strait improve their competitiveness.
Wang and Chiang held a closed-door meeting after Wang finished his opening remarks.
Chiang is also to meet Bo this morning after the SEF and ARATS delegates plant memorial trees in a botanical garden. Chiang and his entourage are to wrap up their stay in China and return to Taipei this evening.
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