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The Fourth Meeting between Heads of Cross-Strait Competent Authorities Held in Guangzhou; Both Sides Adhere to Consolidating "Institutionalized Cross-Strait Negotiations" and "Official Interaction" Mechanisms Based on the "1992 Consensus" to Advance towards Truly Stable Cross-Strait Relations

  • Date:2015-10-14

October 14, 2015
No. 54

The Fourth Meeting between Heads of Cross-Strait Competent Authorities was held today (October 14, 2015) in Guangzhou, mainland China. During the meeting, Minister Andrew Hsia of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) and Director Zhang Zhijun of the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) exchanged views on the current development of cross-strait relations and other important issues. The two sides believe that they should continue, on the "1992 Consensus" basis, to seize opportunities, show goodwill, deepen cooperation, maintain the forward momentum of peaceful and stable cross-strait developments, continue to create concrete and palpable achievements, and dedicate efforts to jointly safeguard peace in the Taiwan Strait, and also the well-being, rights and interests of the people on both sides.

Minister Hsia said that, on the basis of the "1992 Consensus," the two sides have faced cross-strait reality and created new momentum to advance normalized and institutionalized developments in cross-strait relations over the past seven-plus years. Both sides have jointly replaced confrontation and conflict with communication and cooperation, resulting in the most stable and peaceful situation across the Strait throughout the past 66 years of separate governance across the Strait. The core concept underlying this interaction is to "resolve disputes through peaceful means,” and has paved an accurate path and direction adhering to the shared interests of both sides. The two sides should jointly heed and cherish these hard-won historic achievements, further consolidate institutionalized cross-strait negotiations and mechanisms for official interaction, and thus create favorable conditions for the well-being of people on both sides and also for long-lasting cross-strait ties.

Minister Hsia stressed his strong confidence in cross-strait peaceful and stable developments, and believes the path taken will withstand public and historical scrutiny. He also pointed out that, maintaining peace in the Taiwan Strait is the joint responsibility of both sides; Taiwan will continue to adhere to the policy of maintaining the status quo. Minister Hsia called on the Mainland side to face the objective reality of separate governance across the Taiwan Strait, and said that only by showing mutual respect, continuing pragmatic communication and constructive dialogue through existing mechanisms, can the distance and gap across the Strait be truly bridged. Minister Hsia also extended Taiwan's solemn position concerning Mainland's failure to fully communicate with Taiwan and comprehensively explain to the public about the card-type Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents.

During the Fourth Meeting between Heads of Cross-Strait Competent Authorities, the two sides exchanged views on matters of concern and reached the following conclusions:

Regarding the MAC and TAO communication and liaison mechanism, the two sides affirmed its communication and coordination functions in handling important cross-strait affairs and its significance in the development of institutionalized cross-strait relations. They agreed on the need to strengthen communication on significant measures involving both sides, whereby the Taiwan side specifically emphasized the importance of proper advance communication. At the same time, communication and coordination between the two sides should be further enhanced and implemented, while interaction modes between the MAC and the TAO should be further explored so as to more efficiently handle cross-strait affairs. During the meeting, the Taiwan side also proposed to strengthen follow-up control and management measures for the handling of related issues, and also expressed hope for the scope of regular official interaction between the two sides to be gradually expanded on the existing foundation.

On institutionalized cross-strait negotiations, the two sides agreed to continue promotion of Trade in Goods Agreement negotiations, seeking to reach a consensus and results before the year end. Minister Hsia expressed hope for negotiations to be completed before the year end and for the agreement to be promptly signed. In view of the urgent services demanded for cross-strait people’s exchanges, the government will also continue to promote follow-up negotiations on the establishment of SEF-ARATS reciprocal institutions, pragmatically deal with pending issues, and lay a solid basis for the prompt establishment of the reciprocal institutions. The two sides also agreed to accelerate communication on a cross-strait environmental protection pact, aiming to reach an agreement as soon as possible. The Taiwan side further proposed for the ocean trash issue to be included into the agreement and asked the TAO to coordinate with environmental protection agencies in the Mainland. On the issue of Mainland tourist transits in Taiwan, Minister Hsia reiterated his previous position for its promotion and expressed hopes for its implementation before the end of the year, whereby the Mainland side responded that it was willing to pragmatically consider this matter. The two sides also agreed to continue communication on further convenience measures for people’s exchanges across the Strait, an issue of concern to the Mainland side. Moreover, the two sides will work to bring the previously signed cross-strait agreements on trade in services, taxation, and flight safety into effect as soon as possible so as to improve the livelihood and well-being of the people on both sides and promote joint economic development across the Taiwan Strait.

On the implementation of key agreements, the two sides should actively coordinate their relevant competent authorities and increase the efficiency and results of coordinated handling of investment disputes to strengthen protection of the interests and rights of enterprises with cross-strait investments. They should also create a more equitable and efficient investment environment and strengthen the investment cooperation and confidence of cross-strait enterprises to cope with global industrial competition. The two sides will also continue to deepen cooperation, maintain sound and orderly development for Mainland tourist travels to Taiwan, and work to improve the safety and quality of cross-strait tourism. In view of the concerns of both sides over implementation effectiveness of signed agreements, it was suggested that the two sides should arrange for a SEF-ARATS meeting before the end of the year to review the achievements and implementation status of agreements signed over the past seven years so as to further protect the rights, interests and well-being of the people on both sides.

During the meeting, the two sides also exchanged views on cross-strait participation in regional economic integration. Both sides believe that cross-strait economic and trade cooperation and participation in regional economic integration should be complementary and continue to be promoted.

On the issue of the history of the War of Resistance Against Japan, both sides believe that private organizations across the Strait may begin by sharing historical records and conducting collaborative research to objectively and impartially restore historical facts of the war and lay a foundation favorable to cross-strait peace and development. During the meeting, the Taiwan side said that the two sides can cooperate on historical records under the principle of "equality and mutual benefit, open files, no restricted areas, and free research." Moreover, private organizations may also invite cross-strait scholars and relevant international scholars and research institutions to jointly participate in the study of the subject.

The two sides will also continue to strengthen and deepen cooperation in various fields, encourage cross-strait interaction and exchanges in cultural, education, youth, urban and other areas, continue to improve the functions of related exchange platforms, enhance the sharing of growth and learning experience among cross-strait youth, and thus lay a solid foundation for peaceful and stable development across the Taiwan Strait.

During the meeting, the Taiwan side also expressed concern to the Mainland on various subjects such as stopping cross-border operations of Mainland ships so as to protect marine resources, actively assisting with arrest and repatriation of major Taiwanese economic criminals, and strengthening notification mechanisms for protection people’s freedom and personal safety.

The MAC stated that the holding of the Fourth Meeting between Heads of Cross-Strait Competent Authorities symbolizes the steady progress of institutionalized and regular cross-strait official interactions, as well as the firm determination and confidence of the two sides to jointly maintain cross-strait peace and development. During the meeting, Minister Hsia, on behalf of the MAC, also sincerely welcomed Director Zhang to lead a TAO delegation to Taiwan when timing is appropriate. He expressed hope that mutually beneficial ties may continue to be promoted so that people on both sides may enjoy the results of peaceful cross-strait developments.