Singapore paper sees political connotations in Zhang's visit

Singapore, June 27 (CNA) The political connotations of the trip to Taiwan by Zhang Zhijun, head of the Taiwan Affairs Office under China's State Council, cannot be overlooked, a major daily in Singapore said Friday. The Chinese-language Lianhe Zaobao said in an editorial that Zhang was the highest ranking Chinese official in charge of Taiwan affairs to visit Taiwan and that a consensus reached by Zhang and Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi in a meeting on June 25 had clear political implications. The two agreed to include humanitarian visits of detainees among the functions of proposed representative offices in each other's territory, which would be tantamount to a political opening, the paper said, because quasi-government authorities would operate in territories ruled by the other side. The humanitarian visits by a representative office's officials would be also be akin to consular affairs, the paper said. The editorial contended that this development and its political connotations are in line with Taiwan's long-term advocacy of "cross-strait parity." It said that since student-led protests broke out against a cross-strait trade-in-services pact in March, China has become more flexible in making concessions, which could be favorable to the two sides engaging in formal political negotiations and also signals China's confidence in the peaceful development of cross-strait ties. The editorial also contended that the United States is uneasy about China's political offensive in wooing Taiwan, citing a statement made recently by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Clinton urged Taiwan to weigh its openness to China and warned that closer ties could hurt its economic independence and political autonomy. But the editorial also pointed out that Taiwan cannot but deal with China and that China has extended an olive branch to Taiwan by responding to Taiwan's appeal for political parity. Facing such an offensive, Taiwan must forge a national consensus to safeguard its own identity, the editorial said. (By Lu Hsin-hui and Lilian Wu)