Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Third round of cross-strait talks achieve success

On April 26, Taiwan signed three pacts and one joint statement with China in the third round of cross-strait negotiations after President Ma ying-jeou took office last May. Meeting in Nanjing, Chiang Pin-kung represented Taiwan as the chairman of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and Chen Yunlin represented China as the president of Beijing's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS). This time, the two sides forged ties to combat criminal activities, set guidelines for financial cooperation and increase direct links.

Among the three pacts was one aimed at increasing the weekly direct flights between the two sides from 108 to 270. China agreed to add six more destinations to the 21 cities it currently serves. Cargo flights will also increase from 30 per month to 112. In order to accommodate the increased number of flights, the two sides agreed to set up a new southern route between Taipei and Guangzhou, and a new northern route between Taipei and Shanghai.

In the second pact, both sides agreed to work together to maintain financial stability. They agreed to cooperate on the supervision of financial and monetary management and to begin negotiations on giving access to their respective markets by banks, stock brokers and insurance companies on each side. Analysts believe this agreement will pave the way for a memorandum of understanding on financial regulatory cooperation between Taiwan and China, which will lead to the opening of their markets to each other's financial institutions.

The third pact outlined cooperative efforts to combat crime, with both sides agreeing to help serve judicial documents, collect evidence, and confirm each other's civil judgments and arbitration awards. Most significantly, the two sides agreed to repatriate criminals and suspected criminals. The pact was hailed as a milestone because China has long been a haven for Taiwanese criminals in the absence of a repatriation agreement.

In the joint statement, Taiwan welcomed Chinese investment and promised to formulate regulations to facilitate this process. On its part, China agreed to support private investment in Taiwan, and to encourage Chinese enterprises to explore investment opportunities in Taiwan.

The next round of talks will be held in Taiwan before the end of the year and will include discussions on fisheries cooperation, quarantine and inspection of agricultural products, cooperation on standard operating procedures and certification, and prevention of double taxation.

When polled by the Taipei-based China Times, 44 percent of the 763 interviewees were satisfied with the results of the talks, while 22 percent were not. As for the opening of Taiwan’s market to mainland Chinese investment, 53 percent supported it, seeing it as a plus for Taiwan’s economy and 22 percent opposed it, not wanting more dependency on the mainland.

A China Times editorial, urged the government to be cautious and to take gradual steps, so it can minimize risks and protect Taiwan’s national security. It said the agreements are reached due to the fact that both sides adopted an attitude of ‘economy first, politics later’. Future talks will be much tougher when both sides have to touch on political issues.

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About Me

The Press Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in San Francisco represents the Government Information Office (GIO), Executive Yuan, Republic of China (Taiwan). GIO maintains nine Press Divisions in the United States, including the San Francisco office. The Press Divisions are in charge of promoting Taiwan's public relations and cultural exchanges. This blog is updated by the Press Division, TECO in San Francisco.