Bilateral relations hopes 'premature'
By DANIEL KWAN in Taipei
A SENIOR official of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) yesterday ruled out the possibility of immediate resumption of high-level contacts with the mainland and urged Beijing to take actions to heal the wounds left open by the Qiandao Lake murders.
SEF Secretary-General Chiao Hen-ho said the execution of the three murder suspects by mainland police on Sunday did nothing to calm the anger and restore confidence among the Taiwan public.
The suspects - Wu Lihong, Hu Zhihan and Yu Aijun - were executed on Sunday for the murder of 24 Taiwanese tourists and eight mainland crew aboard a tourist boat two months ago on the Qiandao Lake near Hangzhou in Zhejiang.
Last week, China's Association for Relations Across Taiwan Strait (ARATS) called for an early resumption of high-level contact, claiming the conclusion of the murder trial should help restore cross-strait exchanges.
In an interview with Hong Kong journalists yesterday, Mr Chiao made clear that Beijing still had a lot to do before bilateral relations could return to normal.
Although the Secretary-General said it was ''just a matter of time'' before SEF Chairman Koo Chen-fu would meet his mainland counterpart, ARATS chairman Wang Daohan, the meeting would by no means indicate a breakthrough in cross-strait relations.
Mr Koo first met Mr Wang in Singapore in April last year and the meeting had been hailed as a milestone.
According to Mr Chiao, since the decision-making Mainland Affairs Council has yet to make a decision, mid-July might be the earliest date for the second Koo-Wang summit.
''What's important is to create conditions for the Koo-Wang meeting. It will be futile to have a second meeting if conditions are not ripe,'' Mr Chiao said.
''[We] first have to turn the feeling [among the Taiwan public] around. This [feeling] may be an abstract concept but it is also very important to us,'' he added.
In particular, Mr Chiao urged ARATS to take concrete steps to address the issues of travel safety and compensation for the families of the Taiwanese victims.
While Mr Chiao expressed the desire to speed up the resumption of normal exchanges with the mainland, he stressed that the ball remained in Beijing's court.
He said Beijing should also stop its criticism of Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui which, he said, would only poison the already depressed Taiwan-mainland relations.
Mainland media recently launched strong criticism against the president, accusing him of advocating separatism.
In a related development, the families of the murder victims yesterday announced that they would offer a 100,000 yuan (HK$89,300) reward for information leading to the arrests of the ''real murderers.'' at Qiandao Lake.