DPP ex-leader cautions about direct China contacts
Zhang rejects APEC as site for Taiwan-China summit
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-02-14 05:40 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Now that Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi held talks with his Chinese counterpart, Taiwan should be even more cautious about direct meetings between ministers from both sides, former Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen said Friday.

Wang returned from China the same day after a groundbreaking trip which included the first-ever official meeting with his Beijing colleague, Taiwan Affairs Office head Zhang Zhijun, in Nanjing Tuesday.

Tsai, who once headed the MAC herself, said direct meetings should not be specially organized or only held to achieve specific political aims. The encounters should also be careful not to fall into the One China framework pushed by China, she said.

Tsai said the move from talks between semi-official bodies to meetings between Cabinet ministers and government departments was an important step, but it remained to be seen whether the change would bring Taiwan only benefits.

Meetings should be based on long-term mutual respect and equality, while the government should avoid holding the talks with Chinese counterparts just to discuss specific topics or special issues, she said.

Taiwan’s mainstream opinion would never accept the MAC making special concessions just to achieve President Ma Ying-jeou’s dream of meeting Chinese leader Xi Jinping at this year’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing, Tsai said.

While Wang said he never mentioned the summit issue at Tuesday’s highly publicized event, he reportedly said he did broach the subject at a more private two-hour encounter with Zhang in Shanghai Thursday.

The Chinese official’s response was negative, Wang said at a news conference after his return to Taiwan. Beijing has rejected APEC as the scene for a cross-straits summit because it does not recognize Taiwan as a separate nation and therefore could not accept a meeting with Ma at an international conference, observers said.

The MAC’s only proposal was for a summit at APEC, so for the time being no other formula was being considered, Wang said. He added that Zhang had not used Ma’s title as president but named him “Mister Ma” or “Leader Ma” during the conversation. Wang said he himself had consistently spoken of “President Ma.”

At the Nanjing meeting, Wang and Zhang used each other’s official titles, which was seen as a major breakthrough.

The minister should explain the details of his trip to China to the Legislative Yuan, the DPP said Friday. Party policy chief Joseph Wu emphasized that the opposition had asked Wang to respect Taiwan’s sovereignty and to conduct transparent talks. It was only natural that the minister in charge of relations with China should now proceed to address the Legislative Yuan about his talks, Wu said.

DPP lawmakers said a minister should not be left completely in charge of deciding on negotiations with other countries. The party caucus said it had already filed a proposal about the right procedure for handling cross-straits talks.

The Taiwan Solidarity Union said that Ma’s low opinion poll standings had robbed him of the public support necessary for talks with Chinese leaders.

As Wang returned from his four-day trip Friday, former Vice President Lien Chan, who also serves as one of the honorary chairmen of the ruling Kuomintang, was preparing for another meeting with Xi on February 17. It was not immediately known whether the topic of a presidential summit would be broached. According to Lien’s entourage, the former vice president had not been entrusted with the delivery of any messages.

He would be staying in Beijing February 17-19 at the invitation of the Communist Party, reports said. His trip will also include visits to Beijing University, where he received an honorary doctorate, and the city of Shenyang, capital of China’s northeastern province of Liaoning.

The politician’s delegation would include prominent personalities such as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. chairman Terry Gou, Buddhist leader Master Hsing Yun, KMT vice chairmen Lin Feng-cheng and John Chiang, and former TSU chairman Su Chin-chiang, reports said. Lien’s elder son, Sean Lien, who is expected to run for mayor of Taipei City, was not expected to travel to China with his father.

Lien already met Xi in Beijing last February, when the Chinese leader had only just combined the functions of president of the People’s Republic of China and general secretary of the Communist Party.

Lien met with Ma before and after the trip, but also denied he had been passing on any messages. This time, he mentioned his travel plans to Ma when the two men met on Lunar New Year’s Day, but there were no further contacts, reports said.

Lien’s trips to China, first as KMT chairman when the party was in opposition, helped him gain the image of being the communist country’s favorite Taiwanese politician.

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