Taiwan would welcome visit by China's ARATS head

2017/03/30 23:01:33 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
(CNA file photo)

(CNA file photo)

Taipei, March 30 (CNA) Taiwan said on Thursday it welcomes a visit by Chen Deming (陳德銘), president of China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), to discuss matters of mutual concern as part of an effort to promote mutually beneficial interactions between Taiwan and China.

"Our position on working to resume normal communications with China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) and ARATS remains unchanged," said Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正), deputy minister and spokesman for the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan's top agency for implementing China policy.

Tien Hung-mao (田弘茂), head of ARATS's counterpart Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), has extended an invitation to Chen, who told the media in Bo'ao, Hainan Province on March 25 that he could accept the invitation only in his capacity as "the authorized delegate of one of two institutions from a separately-ruled but single country."

SEF and ARATS are semi-official bodies authorized by their respective governments to conduct day-to-day cross-strait affairs, working with the MAC and TAO at the Cabinet level.

"I cannot possibly go (to Taiwan) as a foreigner," Chen said in answer to questions raised by the media in Bo'ao.

He said he wished Tien would give him an opportunity to visit Taiwan - as he would like to visit Kinmen and Taiwan and enjoy Taiwan's famous Yonghe soybean milk and deep-fried dough sticks or youtiao - but at the moment "I know it's unlikely."

Not unlikely as long as he comes to Taiwan in his capacity as ARATS head, recognizes the Republic of China as a sovereign state and views cross-strait ties as just cross-strait ties and nothing else, according to Chiu.

Chen indicated he cannot accept Tien's invitation because Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party government under President Tsai Ing-wen has declined to accept the "1992 consensus" as the sole political foundation for cross-strait exchanges, as insisted by China.

That consensus was a tacit agreement reached by officials of both sides in Hong Kong in 1992 - when Taiwan's ruling party was the Kuomintang (KMT) - that there is only "one China" and each side is free to interpret what that means.

Trying to deflect Chen's "1992 consensus" argument, Chiu reiterated that the Tsai government respects the historical fact that the two sides reached an agreement which later became a political foundation for Taiwan and China to engage in various exchanges and cooperative projects.

"We have all along taken an attitude of not imposing preconditions and taken a mutually respectful, open-minded and innovative approach" toward bridging differences between the two sides and finding common grounds for cooperation, Chiu said.

(By Miao Tsung-han and S.C. Chang)
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