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Central News Agency

2005-06-14 19:04:04

    Taipei, June 14 (CNA) Cabinet spokesman Cho Jung-tai urged China Tuesday to appoint intermediary bodies to negotiate with parallel Taiwan organizations for opening direct charter cargo flights across the Taiwan Strait and other issues of mutual concern.

    Cho made the call a day after Premier Frank Hsieh announced that the Republic of China government will take positive steps to boost cross-strait exchanges, including ordering the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) to cooperate with other relevant government agencies to flesh out details for direct cross-strait charter cargo flights, sales of Taiwan farm produce to China and sightseeing trips to Taiwan by Chinese citizens.

    While dining with a group of Taiwan businessmen operating in China who returned over the weekend for the Dragon Boat Festival celebrations, Hsieh also said the government will commission the Taipei Airlines Association (TAA) to negotiate cross-strait charter cargo flights with China and the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) to negotiate sales of Taiwan farm produce to China. "Now that the premier has outlined options acceptable to us, we hope China can make a goodwill response by appointing its parallel organizations for bilateral negotiations on the cargo flights and farm trade issues, " Cho said, adding that Beijing is welcome to announce its intermediary bodies at a news conference to be held by its Taiwan Affairs Office Wednesday. "Should that be the case, cross-strait consultations on direct charter cargo flights and farm trade could begin very soon, " Cho said.

    As to opening the door for Chinese residents to sightsee in Taiwan, Cho said the government has yet to choose a suitable body to negotiate with China because the issue involves more complicated technical details related to the exercise of public authorities.

    MAC Chairman Joseph Wu said earlier in the day that he looks forward to the participation of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) in the negotiations for opening sightseeing trips to Taiwan by Chinese residents.

    The SEF is a quasi-official intermediary body authorized to handle cross-strait exchanges with China in the absence of official contacts. However, Beijing has unilaterally suspended the institutionalized interaction between the SEF and its Chinese counterpart -- the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) -- since mid-1999 over then-ROC President Lee Teng-hui's definition of bilateral ties as being state-to-state in nature.

    If China still does not allow ARATS officials to talk with their SEF counterparts over the tourist issue, Wu said the government would not rule out commissioning other appropriate body to negotiate the issue. But he added whatever the body, the negotiating team should include officials from the Immigration Bureau, the Tourism Bureau and the SEF.

    Noting that the SEF has a long history of dealing with China, Wu said its officials should have a role in the negotiations for opening the door to Chinese tourists.

    The nation's top mainland policy planner further said the ROC government has been pragmatic and flexible in managing cross-strait affairs while adhering to its fundamental stance and core values. "Anything involving state authority must be negotiated by government officials or in a way acceptable to us. Nevertheless, we are willing to exercise flexibility toward the setting in order to achieve concrete results," Wu said.

    Take the opening of direct cross-strait charter passenger flights during the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday earlier this year as an example, he said. "Regardless of the title used in the negotiations in Macau for the temporary holiday charter flights, our civil aviation chief presided over the negotiations in person on that occasion," Wu said.

    Wu was referring to Civil Aeronautics Administration Director Chang Kuo-cheng, who took part in the cross-strait charter passenger flights negotiations in Macau with Chinese officials as an adviser to the private Taipei Airlines Association.

(By Sofia Wu)


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