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Promoting "cross-strait interactions based on mutual trust, understanding, and awareness of public opinion"

  • Date:2012-08-09

Minister Lai meets with ARATS delegation led by Chairman Chen Yunlin

MAC Press Release No. 057
August 9, 2012

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Lai Shin-yuan met with Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin and the ARATS negotiation team this afternoon (August 9, 2012) at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Taipei. During the meeting, Minister Lai affirmed the major achievement of signing the two agreements between the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and the ARATS during the Talks — the Cross-Strait Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement and the Cross-Strait Customs Cooperation Agreement. She also thanked SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung and the negotiation team for their hard work. In a candid and relaxed exchange, Minister Lai further explained to the ARATS delegation the government's policy stance on the current development of cross-strait relations.

Minister Lai stated that the investment protection and customs cooperation pacts signed today are important pillars of the Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), providing excellent inspiration and models for other ECFA follow-up agreements. Through institutionalized negotiations, the two sides have once again cooperated and steadily advanced. This is an effective approach for cross-strait reconciliation. Minister Lai stated that, the two sides must jointly confront the variables and uncertainties that lie ahead if they are to continue advancing and stay on track. Therefore, it is vital that the two sides deepen mutual trust, and the key to deepening cross-strait mutual trust is mutual understanding between the people on both sides.

Minister Lai stressed that, during her more-than-four-year tenure as MAC Minister, she has deeply reached out to the grassroots level in Taiwan and come to profoundly appreciate that public support is the motive force for promoting the benign development of cross-strait relations. She also deeply understands that the feelings of the people are critical to building cross-strait mutual trust. Minister Lai further affirmed the pragmatic attitude shown by both sides over the past more than four years regarding specific livelihood issues. This has extended the results of institutionalized negotiations to the people's life. Cross-strait mutual trust will move forward so long as the two sides continue to put the people first and build on the achievements of consultations and exchanges in ways that are deeply felt by the public.

During the meeting, Minister Lai also emphasized several points of view on cross-strait relations to the negotiation team:

First, cross-strait mutual trust needs to be maintained and cherished by both sides. As exchanges deepen, the issues are becoming increasingly complex and cross-strait talks are gradually "moving from easy to difficult." There are differences between the two sides in terms of political systems and social atmosphere. In the negotiation process, the two sides inevitably have different views and insistences. However, through mutual understanding and respect, the two sides can steadily resolve disputes, build consensus, and achieve a successful outcome. This is precisely why the two sides must build mutual trust by forging consensus and resolving problems through frank communications. It will absolutely have positive significance for the long-term and stable development of cross-strait relations.

Second, the two sides need to promote the normal and orderly development of cross-strait exchanges. "Exchanges" are among the best ways to develop cross-strait relations and the catalyst for enhancing mutual understanding between the people of the two sides. However, in the course of developing profound exchanges on various levels, the two sides need to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings, opposition, and conflicts. Therefore, in the hope of maintaining the order of cross-strait exchanges, Taiwan is taking a steady and progressive approach to promote qualitative progress in cross-strait exchanges and orderly development based on mutual respect and reciprocity.

Third, the two sides need to treat each other with mutual respect and friendship in the international arena. "Taiwan's participation in international activities" is truly a task with far-reaching repercussions for the development of cross-strait relations. For the past more than four years, the majority of the people in Taiwan identified with and affirmed the substantial improvements achieved in cross-strait relations. However, Taiwan has suffered from unfair treatment with regards to its participation in specific international activities, even those of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). This has frequently brought enormous social impacts and reactions that detracted from the achievements of the years of joint efforts made to improve cross-strait relations. In the "Golden Decade—Cross-Strait Peace" policy vision, the government calls on the two sides to strengthen cooperation and exchanges in specialized fields including environmental protection, climate change, humanitarian relief, public health, and food security. In particular, they can first establish a new cooperation model through exchanges and interactions between non-governmental organizations on the two sides as well as joint participation in and contribution to the international community. Moreover, facing the trend of globalization and regional economic integration, Taiwan's future participation in important regional economic cooperation platforms such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the ASEAN + N, along with FTAs to be signed between Taiwan and its trading partners, are certain to produce exponential benefits for the benign development and consolidation of cross-strait relations, as well as for the cross-strait economy.

Fourth, policy promotion is rooted in the rights, interests and well-being of the people. The achievements made by the two sides through exchanges in various fields and institutionalized negotiations over the years have passed rigorous scrutiny by the people on both sides. They have also realized, for the world to see, the concepts of "respecting human rights and putting people first." During the consultations for the Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement, the two sides held lengthy and serious discussions on the issue of "personal safety." This indicates the high attention that both sides place on protecting the rights and interests of the people. Hopefully the two sides can work together based on the current experience and foundation to further improve the people's well-being. In the future, there will be more opportunities for exchanges and dialogues on other issues and in other fields, creating an even sounder interaction environment for cross-strait peace and developments and promoting further understanding between the people on both sides. It will also bring key benefits for the long-term benign development of cross-strait relations.

Minister Lai also noted that the section on cross-strait peace in the "Golden Decade" national vision proposed by President Ma Ying-jeou last year calls for the "sequential and steady promotion of establishment of reciprocal cross-strait offices," with the aim to more effectively guarantee the rights and interests of the people of Taiwan and create a stable and institutionalized mode for cross-strait interactions. During the latest high-level talks between the SEF and the ARATS, the two sides generally communicated on this matter. In the near term, the two sides will separately carry out planning, evaluation and research. At an appropriate time, they can broadly exchange views on the focus and principles of their respective research and planning.

An issue of deep concern to the people of Taiwan is the hope that the Mainland can take initiative to remove forces deployed against Taiwan. Minister Lai reiterates the government's position, stressing that the doubts of the people of Taiwan in terms of security and military threats have not been truly eliminated. This has a critical impact on the further upgrading of the development of cross-strait relations and on increasing the pace of exchanges between the two sides. Minister Lai notes that this issue is broached not to deliberately underscore the discrepancies or differences between the two sides, but rather in the hope that the two sides can, from the higher perspective of improving the development of cross-strait relations over the long-term, jointly consider and resolve the problems confronting them. The only way to advance is to first face up to and understand the differences and then work to resolve them.

Minister Lai emphasized that the two sides of the Strait share a common Chinese ethnic and cultural heritage. This is an important basis for the two sides in "seeking common ground." The government's Mainland policy enjoys the support of the majority of voters in Taiwan and it will continue to be steadily implemented in the future to lay a solid foundation for the "Golden Decade" and achieve the ultimate objective of creating lasting peace in the Taiwan Strait and stability and prosperity in the region. Lastly, Minister Lai expressed hope that the two sides would continue to cooperate hand in hand in the future, "making steady progress in order to advance sure-footedly and far" and working together to further develop cross-strait interactions" rooted in "mutual trust, understanding, and awareness of public opinion."

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