Breakthrough likely in talks on hijackers
By CHEUNG PO-LING
CHINA and Taiwan are expected to reach a breakthrough on repatriating hijackers and stowaways across the Taiwan Strait today, according to the semi-official Hong Kong China News Agency.
Members of the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) and their Taiwanese counterparts, the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) will resume their discussion on the controversial issue today in Nanjing.
Progress was made when it was first discussed in this round of talks on Wednesday. Both sides have been trying to break the impasse for more than one year.
It is generally believed today's meeting is crucial to strike an agreement or a partial agreement between the two sides.
Despite the progress made on the repatriation issue, China and Taiwan failed to iron out their differences on express mail delivery across the strait when the officials met yesterday.
Reports from both sides said they have reached a general consensus on the structure and contents of the proposals.
However, their main dispute rested on the format of the agreement, the identity of the liaison bodies and the range of items which should be covered by the service.
The ARATS deputy secretary-general, Zhao Zhengyu, revealed that the document under discussion should not be considered as an appendix of the registered mail agreement signed last year, while his Taiwanese counterpart, Hsu Hui-you, insisted it should be drafted as a supplement of last year's agreement.
China also proposed that the items for delivery should cover letters, documents and goods, but the Taiwanese side declined to include goods delivery in their service.
Mr Zhao said that express mail delivery had always covered personal commodities but Mr Hsu argued Taiwan had imposed strict restrictions on the import of goods from the mainland.
Taiwan also rejected proposals which assigned the postal departments to handle future liaison. Taiwan maintained the ARATS and SEF were the right institutions to continue future contacts.
At the end of the meeting, both sides agreed to pursue the discussion in the next round of the talks.