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Dec 22. 2009, No. 094

  • Date:2009-12-22

Minister Lai Shin-yuan meets with ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin in Taichung this afternoon

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Lai Shin-yuan stated that the 12 agreements signed and one consensus reached during the four high-level talks between the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) have laid a good foundation for the institutionalization of economic and trade relations and regulation of orderly exchanges across the Taiwan Strait. They also symbolize a new step forward in cross-strait institutionalized negotiations. These hard-won achievements should be cherished. Minister Lai also sincerely thanked and affirmed the members of the SEF and ARATS negotiation delegations for their hard work and professional performance. Minister Lai made this statement during a meeting with the ARATS delegation led by Chairman Chen Yunlin at 4:30 p.m. today at the Windsor Hotel Taichung.

Minister Lai also referred to "No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti," the top-award-winning movie at this year's Golden Horse Awards. She indicated that just like the movie's call for empathy and message of putting oneself in other's shoes to appreciate the joys, sorrows and needs of the people, there is the need for empathy between the government and people of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. Minister Lai stressed that, in the democratic and pluralistic society of Taiwan, the support of the people absolutely is the key factor to the successful promotion of institutionalized negotiations. In democratic and free Taiwan, the government must heed the voices of the people, respect public opinion, and respond to the will of the people when implementing related policies. Minister Lai also cited a Taiwanese saying that, "If the roots are strong, the limbs of a tree will not fear the gales." Comparing cross-strait institutionalized negotiations to the roots in this saying, she noted that, so long as our position is firm, the negotiation process is transparent enough, negotiations can produce substantive benefits, and the benefits can be enjoyed by all people, cross-strait negotiations can then win public support and progress far.

Minister Lai further expressed her belief that there is still room to improve the implementation of the agreements reached during the SEF-ARATS negotiations. She noted that the issues—including the difficulty in obtaining plane tickets to popular cross-strait flight points during the holidays, the failure to repatriate major economic criminals back to Taiwan, and the handling of compensation claims by Taiwanese companies that have been harmed by the melamine-tainted milk incident— are the matters that require to be quickly addressed by both sides through the use of the agreements as a platform to maximize the effects of the agreements. Regarding the announcement of the contents and timetables of the agreements reached at the SEF and ARATS talks, Minister Lai said that in the future there should be flexibility and adjustments due to time and circumstances. The purpose of transparency is to satisfy the people's right to know.

Minister Lai said that transparency is the best way to resolve misgivings. Drawing on her personal experience, she noted that she often faces public suspicion during her frequent communications with the general public in central and southern Taiwan. On such occasions, she informs the people that the contents of the nine agreements and one consensus can easily be read online. If they review it word for word, they will see that nowhere does the government sell out Taiwan. This approach has been very effective in eliminating public doubts. Since the political environment on the two sides differs, this point must be handled with special care in future cross-strait negotiations.

During the 45-minute meeting, Minister Lai also conveyed to Chairman Chen the heartfelt wish of the people of Taiwan to participate with dignity in the international community. This is particularly true of non-governmental organizations. If these types of private-sector organizations are unfairly treated in participating in international activities, it will lead the public to believe that the improvement of cross-strait relations has not helped expand Taiwan's space in the international arena. This in turn would deny the efforts made by the two sides in easing up cross-strait relations during this period. Minister Lai expressed hope that the Mainland side could take positive measures to clearly show the people of Taiwan the true benefits of improving cross-strait relations. She also emphasized that cross-strait reconciliation absolutely cannot be achieved under the shadow of military threat. She also expressed confidence that the two sides can wisely and carefully face up to and jointly seize this new historical situation so that cross-strait relations can advance steadily and far.

After the meeting, Minister Lai, ARATS Chairman Chen and SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung jointly attended a tea reception at the Grand Ballroom on the 17th floor of the Howard Prince Hotel Taichung. About 160 people attended the reception, including the members of the SEF and ARATS negotiation delegations, officials of the domestic authorities responsible for related issues, and SEF and ARATS personnel. Minister Lai presented each of the ARATS delegates with a DVD copy of the movie "No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti." After the meeting, Minister Lai also held a press conference on the fourth floor of the Howard Prince Hotel to answer questions from the media.