Beijing, Taipei sign science pacts

Two sides formalise weather and earthquake monitoring agreements today as relations further improve between the former rivals

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 February, 2014, 4:12am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 February, 2014, 4:12am

Top negotiators from the mainland and Taiwan are due to sign two more agreements today in a further sign of warming cross-strait relations.

The officials will sign meteorological and earthquake monitoring co-operation pacts in Taipei. The agreements come after the two sides held the first government-to-government talks in six decades in Nanjing earlier this month.

Beijing will be represented at the signings by Chen Deming, the president of semi- official body the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait.

"Our two sides have a lofty mission, that is to make relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait closer every day in order to realise our dream of a Chinese renaissance," Chen said yesterday in Taipei.

Chen's comments echoed remarks by President Xi Jinping that he hoped relations between the mainland and Taiwan would be like those of a family and that he wanted to produce a renaissance in China.

Chen will meet Lin Join-sane of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation at the signing ceremony and the pair will later hold talks.

One of the issues they will discuss is smog, Straits Exchange Foundation officials said. Air pollution is a major problem on the mainland and has begun to affect Taiwan as smog is blown towards the island.

"Leaders of our two sides will make certain decisions on air-pollution control during their talks," the foundation's vice- chairman, Chang Hsien-yao, told a news conference in Taipei yesterday. He said the two sides started discussing the pollution issue two years ago.

The data-sharing meteorological and earthquake pacts signed today will be the 20th and 21st non-political co-operation agreements signed by the two sides since President Ma Ying-jeou took power in Taiwan in 2008 and adopted a policy of pushing for closer ties with Beijing.

Lin has called for further co-operation between the two sides to increase the well-being of people across the Taiwan Strait.

"The agreements on meteorological exchanges and earthquake monitoring will have a real influence on the lives and property of the people from both sides," he said.

At the Nanjing talks earlier this month, Zhang Zhijun , head of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, met his Taiwanese counterpart Wang Yu-chi of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council. Official contact between the two sides had until then been limited to talks between semi-official bodies since Kuomintang forces fled to Taiwan at the end of the civil war in 1949.

Chen is scheduled to meet Wang for talks at a hotel in Taipei after signing the agreements today and address him by his official government title, an act made possible after agreement at the Nanjing talks to set up a direct communication mechanism to discuss cross-strait issues.

Taipei has treated the matter as a major breakthrough, given that Beijing regards Taiwan as a breakaway province of the People's Republic.

Beijing has stressed the arrangement is limited to just the Mainland Affairs Council, the Taiwan Affairs Office and semi-official bodies, which remain the representatives for cross-strait talks despite the new engagement.

More than one hundred police officers were deployed at Taipei's international airport when Chen arrived yesterday in case of protests.

Fewer than a dozen protesters, including pro-independence activists, gathered outside the terminal.