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China offers apology to Taiwan over melamine-tainted food

China's negotiator Chen Yunlin agrees with the proposed schedule

China offers apology to Taiwan over melamine-tainted food

China's top cross-strait envoy Chen Yunlin has accepted the Taiwanese proposal to start his five-day visit on Nov. 3, while his semi-official organization also offered a letter of apology to Taiwan over the export of melamine-tainted food.
A Taiwanese delegation led by Straits Exchange Foundation vice chairman Kao Koong-lian spent four hours in Shenzhen near Hong Kong yesterday hammering out the final details with its Chinese counterparts from the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits for the visit of its chairman.
As Taiwan announced last week, Chen will begin the highest-level visit ever by a Chinese official since 1949 by arriving at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport next Monday, Nov. 3, at the head of a 60-member delegation.
Chen will have the first official talks with his Taiwanese counterpart, SEF chairman P.K. Chiang, the following day. They are expected to sign four agreements on cross-strait air links, direct shipping links, postal links, and food safety on Nov. 5.
Chen's visit will last until Nov. 7 and also include two seminars, but he will not visit central and southern Taiwan, Kao said at a news conference in Shenzhen yesterday.
In a separate move demanded by both government and opposition, ARATS yesterday offered an apology to Taiwan for the recent melamine scare in a letter to the SEF. ARATS "expresses its regrets for the trouble and losses the incident caused to Taiwanese consumers and businesses," the letter said.
The organization said the Chinese authorities would do their utmost to find the perpetrators of the contamination and to protect the health of consumers.
The Presidential Office said the letter showed China's goodwill, but the opposition Democratic Progressive Party said the apology should not come from the semi-official ARATS, but from China's government, and should also include offers of compensation.
There was no immediate word from Shenzhen on another widely followed topic, whether Chen will meet President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), and how he will address Taiwan's elected head of state.
Financial cooperation
China does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign, independent country, but sees it as a breakaway province. Therefore, Chinese officials and media never use the title of president when they mention Taiwan's leader.
The DPP has said China would be guilty of belittling Taiwan if Chen calls the president "Mister Ma."
Financial cooperation in the face of the global financial crisis would be a new topic brought to the table by the Taiwanese side, Kao said yesterday.
The Taiwanese side would also suggest China support the island's bid to position itself as a regional business operations center.
Chen's visit for talks with Chiang follows a first round in Beijing last June, which resulted in agreements on direct weekend charter flights and on the opening up of Taiwan for Chinese tourists. Both measures went into effect on July 4.
Security measures for Chen's landmark visit have also been a focus of attention since his deputy, Zhang Mingqing (張銘清), was jostled to the ground by opposition protesters during a visit to a Tainan temple last week.
There are fears that Chen Yunlin might also witness violent incidents.
Police would mobilize at least 7,000 officers to prevent violent attacks on Chen during his visit, National Police Agency chief Wang Cho-chiun (王卓鈞) told reporters. The number included all police to be active from the time of Chen's arrival at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport until his departure.
DPP lawmaker Lee Chun-ying said the government was exaggerating by devoting so many police on the visit. The DPP has been accusing the authorities of treating Chen like a foreign head of state.
The National Security Bureau (國安局), Taiwan's top intelligence agency, said yesterday it will not allow violence to disrupt the cross-strait negotiations. Chen's protection would be secure, peaceful, and efficient, NSB director-general Tsai Chao-ming (蔡朝明) said at the Legislative Yuan yesterday.


Updated : 2021-07-30 14:36 GMT+08:00