Rivals bargaining over talks agenda
BEIJING and Taipei appeared to be engaged in last-minute bargaining over the agenda of the cross-strait talks scheduled to start later this month, a statement by Beijing's quasi-official body revealed yesterday.
In a message to its counterpart, Taipei's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) yesterday, China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) agreed that it would send its top representatives to Taiwan later this month but has proposed an agenda slightly different from what was suggested by SEF last week.
''At our high-level talks, we agree to discuss those issues that both sides are mutually concerned with. For other problems, we can first exchange our views in informal meetings,'' the ARATS statement said.
It also hinted travel safety would be tackled through informal meetings only if Taiwan was willing to discuss the shooting of mainland fishermen by Taiwanese soldiers.
''If we can find some common points between these issues, we can treat them as special agendas,'' ARATS said.
Taiwan had pushed for putting travel safety on the agenda because of widespread discontent on the island after 24 Taiwanese tourists were murdered by Chinese robbers in Qiandao Lake in March.
ARATS yesterday suggested to discuss a number of new items such as express mail service, protection of Taiwanese investors' interests on the mainland, culture and technology exchanges.
Last week, ARATS agreed to discuss with Taiwan ways to cope with aircraft hijacking, the repatriation of illegal immigrants and the resolution of fishing disputes.
Meanwhile, in its latest reply yesterday, ARATS preferred to further delay the talks in Taipei, the fifth round with SEF.
Instead of July 23 or July 28 as suggested by SEF, ARATS wanted to hold the working-level talks from July 30 to August 1 and the high-level talks between ARATS secretary-general Tang Shubei and his Taiwanese counterpart Chiao Jen-ho on August 3.