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Taiwan top negotiator with China tenders resignation

Taiwan top negotiator with China tenders resignation

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan’s top negotiator with China, Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman P.K. Chiang, said Wednesday he had tendered his resignation to President Ma Ying-jeou for health reasons.
Ma told him clearly he was turning down the offer and asking him to stay on, presidential spokesman Wang Yu-chi told reporters.
Chiang, 77, said he had requested an interview with Ma on Monday and tendered his resignation during the talk. Later he also offered a written version, Chiang told reporters.
“I considered my age, and I want to hold some time over for my family,” he said, denying his resignation was a sudden decision.
The president phoned him Wednesday morning after the resignation offer became public, Chiang said, adding that his health was a problem that could not be solved.
“The work pressure over the past year has made my health flash a red light,” he said, denying that political differences of opinion were behind his wish to leave.
The opposition Democratic Progressive Party saw Chiang’s resignation as the result of a power struggle inside the ruling Kuomintang.
There have been reports that Ma wants to resume the chairmanship of the KMT, with current chairman Wu Poh-hsiung succeeding Chiang at the SEF. Wu told reporters Wednesday the ruling party’s Central Standing Committee wanted Chiang to stay as cross-straits negotiator.
DPP lawmaker Chiu Yi-ying said the pro-KMT media were publishing his resignation on their front pages Wednesday morning to force through his removal. Chiang had been the wrong choice for the job from the beginning, and was now being sacrificed amid an internal party struggle, the DPP said.
KMT Chairman Wu has visited China and met its leaders several times. He was planning to attend the 80th anniversary of the interment of KMT founder Sun Yat-sen in Nanjing on June 1 and attend a forum with the Communist Party in July, the KMT announced Wednesday.
Chiang led the Taiwanese side during three rounds of talks and agreements with China since Ma took office last May 20 promising to improve relations with the long-term communist rival.
A first round, in Beijing last June, resulted in the opening of Taiwan to more Chinese tourists and in direct weekend charter flights.
The second round in Taipei last November led to direct shipping links, the expansion of direct flights to weekdays, and to a framework for cooperation on food safety. The event marked the first-ever visit to Taiwan by Chiang’s Chinese counterpart, Chen Yunlin, the chairman of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits. Massive opposition street protests and clashes with police disrupted the happy atmosphere the government wanted to surround the event with.
Last April 26, Chiang signed agreements in Nanjing about regular direct flights, cooperation on the extradition of Taiwanese fugitives from China and on financial issues, and a joint declaration preparing for the opening up of Taiwan to investments from China. A fourth round, expected in Taiwan by the end of the year, should focus on President Ma’s heavily contested plans for an Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement with China.
Chiang was earlier reported to be tired, but there were also media reports that he was dissatisfied with the lack of support he received from the KMT. He felt like a rubber stamp, the Chinese-language Liberty Times daily said in earlier reports.
The SEF chairman, a native of Nantou County, has also repeatedly come under attack for alleged conflicts of interest. Talking to reporters Wednesday, he alluded to the problems by saying one factor in his resignation offer was the difficulties he had caused his relatives.
His son Mike Chiang was accused of using the negotiator’s connections to obtain the status of exclusive importer for a Chinese company, while his wife was allegedly an investor in a restaurant frequented by tour groups from China.
Chiang turned up at the Legislative Yuan with Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan Wednesday morning for questioning about the April 26 agreements with China, but the session failed to get off the ground as scuffles broke out between lawmakers.
The DPP questioned a procedural issue, but the dispute soon deteriorated into a sharp confrontation, with some lawmakers throwing documents and tea cups at their colleagues.
The session is expected to continue Thursday morning.


Updated : 2021-05-09 18:44 GMT+08:00