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China envoy talks will be technical, not political: Taiwan President

President says issues to discuss with ARATS head include cross-strait flights, food safety

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) insisted on Oct. 28 that talks with China's top envoy Chen Yunlin next week would not touch on political issues.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) insisted on Oct. 28 that talks with China's top envoy Chen Yunlin next week would not touch on political issues.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) insisted yesterday that talks with China's top envoy Chen Yunlin next week would not touch on political issues.
"The discussions will deal with technical issues, and if they fail, it will be very difficult for the two sides to normalize their economic relations," Ma told a visiting delegation from local business associations.
Chen and his 60-member delegation from the semi-official Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) will stay in Taipei from Nov. 3 through 7. The group is expected to sign four agreements with its Taiwanese counterpart, the Straits Exchange Foundation headed by P.K. Chiang, and to attend two seminars.
The opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has expressed fears that Ma's government will push for a peace accord with China without consulting the Legislative Yuan.
The talks will focus on more direct routes and more destinations for the weekend charter flights, direct airfreight and shipping links, more complete postal links, and food safety issues, Ma said.
The president pointed out that Chen would be the highest-level Chinese official ever to have visit Taiwan since both sides separated amid war in 1949. The trip would open a new chapter in the development of cross-strait relations and build on the first round of talks in Beijing last June, he said.
Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) told lawmakers yesterday he hoped Chen would use the title of president to address Ma when they meet next week.
China does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign and independent nation, or recognize the official titles for their government leaders, so the expression Chen will use to address the president has attracted special attention.
"I hope the other side of the Taiwan Strait can call us president and premier," Liu said yesterday, noting that he had no meetings planned with Chen.
The president's advisers were making serious considerations to make the most correct and the most respectful choice, Liu said.
A preparatory meeting in the Chinese town of Shenzhen on Monday did not decide whether Ma and Chen should meet, but Liu told lawmakers yesterday the details were being arranged. He replied negatively to legislators' questions whether the meeting should take place at the Grand Hotel, where Chen will be staying.
There have been no plans for this location, because according to etiquette, the president is receiving a guest, not going out of his way to pay a visit, Liu said.
Too little, too late
President Ma welcomed the apology from ARATS for the melamine scare yesterday, but added it was late and not enough. The semi-official organization apologized for the food scare in a letter on Monday. "If China had been able to apologize right from the start, the Taiwanese public would have had a completely different impression," he said.
China's Sanlu Corp. recalled 700 tons of tainted milk powder in early September, but Taiwan was only informed about the 25 tons of the product on the island on Sep. 12.
The ARATS letter mentioned China would punish the culprits for the contamination, but that was not enough, Ma said. China should also let Taiwan's citizens file for compensation, he said, adding that the SEF was accepting registration by businesses and individuals who wanted to claim compensation.
Earlier, Premier Liu described China's apology as a form of "belated justice." Liu had demanded such an apology on Oct. 7.
The premier said the gesture from China was a form of goodwill which would help create a favorable atmosphere for next week's talks.
The opposition DPP has rejected the apology, saying it should come from the government of China itself.