Beijing denies talks with Taipei stalled after anti-trade deal protests

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 June, 2014, 4:12am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 June, 2014, 11:21am

Beijing yesterday rejected media reports that negotiations with Taipei had been suspended due to Taiwan's lack of progress in ratifying a free-trade services pact signed last June.

"This is incorrect," said Fan Liqing, a spokeswoman for the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office, under the State Council.

Taiwan's deputy economics minister, Woody Duh Tyzz-jiun, said on Monday the mainland had not held talks with Taiwan over a merchandise trade agreement that was supposed to be signed at the end of this year. The possibility of concluding the talks this year was "nearly non-existent", he said.

But Fan was quoted by Xinhua as saying that executive departments and business leaders on both sides "have remained in communication and exchanged opinions regarding various ongoing or preparatory talks".

The trade-services agreement and the merchandise pact are follow-ups to the Economic Framework Cooperation Agreement - a semi-free trade pact - signed by the two sides in 2010.

Duh cautioned that Taiwan would suffer if South Korea - one of the island's key competitors in the mainland Chinese market - signed a free-trade pact with Beijing. South Korea began formal free-trade negotiations with China, along with Japan, in 2012. They have so far conducted six rounds of talks with the hope of signing a pact within the next two years.

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has warned that failure to push through the follow-up pacts would discourage other countries from signing similar deals with Taiwan.

Ratification of the trade services pact was delayed when students occupied the island's parliament for three weeks from March 18.