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Mainland Affairs Council

Talks between the SEF and the ARATS in 2008

The ROC Government's Policy on Promoting Cross-strait Negotiations in the Current Phase

1. Foreword

One of the vital parts of the ROC government’s overall administration is to promote a proactive and steady mainland policy . Close cross-strait contacts on all aspects over the years have produced structural changes in cross-strait relations, and this has given rise to many issues that urgently need to be resolved through negotiations between the two sides. In order to jointly turn a new historical page of peace and co-prosperity, the ROC government will resume negotiations with mainland China through the institutionalized mechanism of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS). Such negotiations will proceed under the premise of "putting Taiwan first for the benefit of the people" and on the basis of the "1992 Consensus." We hope that the two sides can adhere to the principle of "shelving controversies and pursuing a win-win situation." We also hope that once the SEF and ARATS resume institutionalized negotiations, the two sides can strike a balance in the joint pursuit of their respective interests, and thereby bring about a new era in cross-strait relations.

2. Resuming Negotiations between the SEF and ARATS

 (1) Recent expressions of goodwill between the two sides create an opportunity for resuming dialogue

High-level leaders of the two sides met during the Boao Forum for Asia on April 12 this year. At that time, we proposed that the two sides "face reality, pioneer a new future, shelve controversies and pursue a win-win solution" and re-open negotiations on cross-strait economic and trade issues. This proposition immediately received a positive reply from the mainland side. In his May 20 inaugural address, President Ma Ying-jeou again urged the two sides to seize this historic opportunity to resume negotiations at the earliest time possible. After President Ma assumed office on May 20, the ROC government began to actively work on restarting cross-strait talks. We hoped that through meetings between the SEF and ARATS the two sides can turn a new page of history for cross-strait economic and trade cooperation and development.

 (2) SEF reshuffles high-level personnel and the MAC formally authorizes SEF to resume  negotiations with ARATS

The SEF reshuffled its high-level personnel on May 26 this year. Mr. Chiang Pin-kun was appointed as chairman and Mr. Kao Koong-lian was appointed to the concurrent positions of vice chairman and secretary-general. On the very day of the reorganization, the MAC formally authorized the SEF to begin negotiations with ARATS on issues of cross-strait passenger and cargo charter flights and allowing Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan. Through communication between the SEF and ARATS, the mainland side immediately made a positive response. On May 29, ARATS sent a reply inviting the SEF to visit Beijing for negotiations on June 11 to 14. The SEF accepted the proposal.

3.The ROC Government's Preparations for Cross-strait Negotiations

(1) Initial consensus reached previously on negotiation issues

Under the last administration (in June 2005), the Executive Yuan announced that allowing mainland tourists to visit Taiwan and opening cargo charter flights would be the priority issues for cross-strait negotiations. In August the same year, the ROC side announced that the issues of passenger and cargo charter flights would be jointly discussed. The two sides subsequently held several rounds of technical negotiations and laid a good foundation on normalizing cross-strait charter flights and allowing mainland tourists to visit Taiwan. The two sides later continued informal communication on related issues. On these issues, the two sides had already reached a high degree of consensus .

(2) The government has completed related plans and preparations on negotiation issues

Promoting cross-strait weekend charter flights and mainland tourist visits to Taiwan are the foremost policy objectives of the new government on normalizing cross-strait economic and trade relations. President Ma also has instructed the Executive Yuan to carry out this campaign policy position pertaining to Taiwan's economic development within his first one hundred days in office.

On May 22 this year, the Executive Yuan approved the "Plan for Establishing Cross-strait Weekend Charter Flights and Allowing Mainland Tourists to Visit Taiwan" presented by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), as well as accompanying measures later proposed by related agencies. The government has also completed plans and preparations for the related software and hardware facilities, laws, and security management measures needed to implement weekend charter flights and allow mainland tourists to visit Taiwan.

4. The ROC Government's Expectations on Cross-strait Negotiations

Pragmatic promotion of cross-strait economy and trade is the key to the continued progress of Taiwan's economy. We will place Taiwan in the core, aim at the globe relations, promote the dynamic adjustment of cross-strait economic and trade, and bring about a new era for cross-strait economic and trade negotiations. President Ma has stated in his inaugural address that the normalization of economic and cultural relations is the first step to a win-win solution for both sides, and that Taiwan is ready to resume consultations. He also said that Taiwan expected to start direct charter flights on weekends and open up Taiwan to mainland tourist visits in July this year. This will usher in a new phase for the welfare of the people on both sides of the Strait and cross-strait relations and jointly create a new win-win era of mutual benefit.

We also hope that the two sides will continue in future to use their officially authorized channels to engage in dialogue and negotiations on various matters deriving from cross-strait exchanges. In this way, the two sides can move from "zero sum" to "win-win," move from "vicious competition" to "reciprocity and mutual benefit," and thereby jointly contribute to promoting cross-strait and regional peace and stability.