Taipei, Oct. 11 (CNA) The Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) denied Friday a Chinese official's contention at a cross-Taiwan Strait forum that Taiwan has sidestepped politic issues in favor of economic issues. Some of the cross-Taiwan Strait agreements forged in the past few years had their political aspects, which Taiwan's government did not shy away from but handled in a pragmatic manner, the MAC 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 MAC said. "There is no such situation of sidestepping politics in favor of economics." Citing the ongoing cross-strait talks on the exchange of representative offices as an example, the MAC said the issues involved in the talks are very complicated, and some of them are politically sensitive. Existing cross-strait ties are the results of accumulated mutual trust and positive interactions between the two sides since President Ma Ying-jeou
assumed office in 2008, the MAC said. As for a proposal by Chinese participants on the opening day of the two-day Cross-Strait Peace Forum on Friday that the two sides' leaders should exchange visits, the MAC said such visits could only be arranged if they have the consent of Taiwan's people and national dignity is not jeopardized.
At the forum, Zhang Zhijun, director of the Taiwan Affairs Office under China's State Council, called for breakthroughs on "outstanding issues which prevent and restrict cross-strait relations from making further progress." He accused Taiwan of only "focusing on economic issues while sidestepping political issues" and said such a situation was "unsustainable." He called the forum part of an effort to overcome the obstacles to greater progress in cross-strait relations. The forum, organized by seven institutions each from Taiwan and China, is focusing 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, a think tank leaning toward the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party. The Chinese organizers include the National Society of Taiwan Studies and six other research institutes at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and universities in Beijing and Xiamen. (By Scarlett Chai and Elizabeth Hsu)