Taiwanese Premier Liu Chao-shiuan has demanded that the mainland apologise to Taiwan and make necessary restitution to related businesses on the island over the tainted milk crisis. 'I hereby officially ask the mainland government to apologise to us,' said Mr Liu yesterday when he was grilled by opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers at the Legislative Yuan for failing to protect Taiwanese interests. The situation is also certain to overshadow an upcoming visit by Chen Yunlin , chairman of the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (Arats), to Taiwan later this month. Mainland officials say Mr Chen will visit as planned despite the milk powder row. The Arats chief will be the most senior mainland official to visit Taiwan in more than a decade. DPP lawmakers and officials have been criticising President Ma Ying-jeou, of the mainland-friendly Kuomintang, and his government for appeasing the mainland even as tainted milk products have caused health hazards and huge losses to local businesses on the island. Taiwan ordered hundreds of thousands of products with mainland dairy and vegetable-based protein ingredients removed from the shelves after food items from some of its major suppliers were found to be contaminated by melamine, an industrial chemical used to artificially raise the protein content of dairy and non-dairy products. Mr Liu stressed that cabinet departments would calculate the losses sustained by local businesses and help them to file compensation claims on the mainland. 'But evidence and precise figures showing the losses are a must before we can make the claim,' he said. He estimated Taiwanese businesses had lost at least NT$7 billion (HK$1.69 billion). Economics Minister Yiin Chii-ming told legislators during the same session that his ministry would make public the exact losses within a week. Mr Liu said the government would help firms seek compensation from the mainland through the Straits Exchange Foundation, the government-funded agency in charge of dealings with the mainland. Also, Lai Shin-yuan - chairwoman of the Mainland Affairs Council, the island's top mainland policy planning body - told the legislators that Taiwan and the mainland would soon set up a direct communication channel to deal with health issues. 'Such a mechanism will be set up within a few days to a week to allow direct communication between health and inspection agencies of the two sides,' she said. She added that, at the moment, it was more urgent to determine where the blame lay and find out the exact amount of losses. She said after all these issues were clarified, the mechanism would help local companies make claims from relevant mainland agencies. Taiwan sent a team of health experts to the mainland on Saturday to discuss the impact of the tainted milk and the food safety problem. The team returned to Taipei on Monday with a mainland agreement to set up a direct communication channel.