Disagreement over hijackers hits talks
NEGOTIATORS from Taiwan and China have failed to reach agreement over the repatriation of hijackers and stowaways, fishing disputes and opening of express mail between the two countries after six days of talks.
The talks, between China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) and Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), ended yesterday in China's Nanjing city.
Although both sides said they had narrowed their differences over the bulk of the text, they were still discussing the wording and therefore could not sign any agreement.
Beijing blamed the failure on Taipei raising new matters outside the consensus reached in the Taipei mini-summit in August.
A dispatch from the semi-official Hong Kong China News Agency said that one of the main differences was the retrospective power of the agreement on the repatriation of hijackers and stowaways.
According to the agency, although ARATS accepted that retrospective power would not be written into the document, they maintained that any future repatriation agreement must also apply to hijackers and stowaways who were already detained.
Hsu Hui-you, deputy secretary-general of SEF, described the progress as 'acceptable'. He said that principles could not be sacrificed over altering the wording.
But his mainland counterpart, deputy secretary-general of ARATS, Sun Yafu, said that any alterations would be in keeping with the spirit of the consensus reached by both sides during the August talks.
China and Taiwan have been trying to break the impasse for more than a year and this was the sixth round of talks.
But tension between Beijing and Taipei has intensified in recent months and China has stepped up criticism of Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui, over advocating a 'one China, one Taiwan' policy.
ARATS chairman Wang Daohan was quoted by the mainland media yesterday saying that he wished the two sides could eliminate their political differences and strengthen co-operation for their mutual benefit.