Taipei pressed over mainland visit for talks

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 February, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 February, 1998, 12:00am

Beijing yesterday stepped up pressure on Taipei to reopen cross-strait talks and issued a new invitation to Taiwan negotiators to visit the mainland.

The latest salvo was fired by top negotiator Tang Shubei, Vice-Chairman of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), and came on the day Taipei replaced his counterpart.

Shi Hwei-yow took over from Chiao Jen-ho as Secretary-General of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation.

Beijing and Taipei agreed five years ago in Singapore to carry out annual discussions through the chairmen of the two bodies.

Such talks, to be conducted by ARATS Chairman Wang Daohan and SEF boss Koo Chen-fu, were suspended after Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui made an unofficial visit to the United States in 1995.

In an interview with Cross-Strait Relations, a magazine run by ARATS, Mr Tang said he hoped the bodies could exchange visits before the sides resumed the so-called 'Wang-Koo summit'.

'I hope we can realise mutual visits, led by responsible officials of ARATS and SEF and attended by their advisers and directors, before the second Wang-Koo meeting takes place,' Mr Tang said.

He put the ball firmly in Taiwan's court, saying whether the current impasse could be solved depended solely on Taipei's attitude.

Both sides must start political discussions to bring about co-operation in other areas, he added.

The suggestion of mutual visits by the advisers and directors was first put forward by Taipei last year, but ARATS responded by inviting Mr Chiao to Xiamen to attend an academic seminar - an offer shunned by the foundation.

Speaking in Taipei, Mr Koo said whether his annual meeting with Mr Wang could resume depended on if Beijing adhered to a 1993 agreement.

At the 1993 Singapore summit, both sides agreed to shelve their arguments on the thorny issue of the 'one-China principle' and co-operate on technical matters such as smuggling and joint investment.

Taipei has insisted discussions on technical issues must resume before political negotiations can be considered.

Meanwhile, Chang King-yuh, chairman of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, said Mr Chiao's departure from the SEF would not affect island policy.