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Straits Exchange Foundation chairman tenders resignation

Straits Exchange Foundation chairman tenders resignation

Taipei, May 6 (CNA) Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung said Wednesday that he has officially tendered his resignation, but President Ma Ying-jeou appears ready to try and retain him in the post he has held for nearly a year.
The 77-year-old Chiang said the decision was made in light of his age and declining physical strength.
Just returning from a trip to Nanjing last week during which he reached three agreements and one consensus with China, the chief negotiator with China said he believes the latest achievements brought his service at the SEF to a satisfying conclusion and that he now wished to spend more time with his family.
He disclosed that he had also offered to resign late last year, but said he stayed on at President Ma Ying-jeou's request.
Presidential Office spokesman Wang Yu-chi said Wednesday morning that Ma's position has not changed since then and that he will do everything in his power to retain Chiang and not approve his resignation.
Wang said Chiang told the president of his plans to resign at a meeting on Monday, but Ma refused to agree to Chiang's request.
The SEF is a semi-official intermediary set up by Taiwan to deal with cross-Taiwan Strait affairs and negotiations in the absence of official ties between the two sides.
Ma, who has made it a priority to ease tensions and improve relations with China, appointed Chiang to head the SEF soon after his inauguration on May 20, 2008.
Chiang has negotiated nine agreements with Beijing since then, but he has been dogged by conflict of interest accusations over his family's business interests in China and his own role as the chairman of the Sinocon Industrial Standards Foundation, a nonprofit cross-strait IT development association, a position he later resigned.
The president's spokesman said on Wednesday, however, that Ma believed Chiang did not have conflict of interest issues as reported by the media. Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan called the allegations "unfair" to Chiang and said she hopes Chiang continues to serve the SEF.
Rumors have also surfaced that Chiang has been unhappy with political maneuvering by the ruling Kuomintang and frustrated by the MAC's conservative attitude toward liberalizing commercial ties with China.
Moreover, the president's hints that it would be beneficial for him to serve as KMT chairman to improve government-party coordination intensified talk that incumbent KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung would be given Chiang's job after Ma became head of the party, leaving Chiang in an awkward position.
Chiang has led the SEF in three rounds of talks with China. In June 2008, the first meeting was held between Chiang and his Chinese counterpart, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits President Chen Yunlin, marking the official resumption of cross-strait dialogue following a nine-year hiatus.
During that meeting, Chiang and Chen signed agreements on the launch of weekend cross-strait passenger charter flights and the admission of larger numbers of Chinese tourists to Taiwan.
Their second meeting took place in November 2008 in Taipei, during which they signed agreements on expanding the weekend passenger charter services into daily services, opening cargo charter, direct cross-strait shipping and postal services, and improving food safety.
Their third meeting in Nanjing in April 2009 led to the signing of three more agreements on the launch of regular cross-strait passenger flights, mutual judicial assistance and financial cooperation and the release of a joint statement on a proposal to open Taiwan to Chinese investment.
(By Y.F. Low)




Updated : 2021-05-15 07:58 GMT+08:00