Peace with Taiwan may deteriorate post-Ma: China

TAIPEI - Mainland China's top official negotiator with Taiwan yesterday stated that the results of past cross-strait agreements could "collapse" if the "1992 Consensus" is not upheld, as the two sides concluded two new agreements yesterday in Fuzhou.

Zhang Zhijun, head of China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) spoke during a press conference following the inking of an aviation safety and double-taxation exemption agreement signed between Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS).

His remarks put the institutionalization of cross-strait agreements under scrutiny as mainland China's remarks appear to be directed at Taiwan's presidential candidates and whether or not their proposed policies are deemed acceptable for maintaining current ties.

The "1992 Consensus" refers to an understanding between the mainland and Taiwanese governments that there exists only one China, but both governments interpret that separately.

"We hope the Taiwanese people make the correct decision," Zhang said.

SEF Chairman Lin Join-sane expressed the Taiwanese government's intention to conclude agreements in the next high-level talks on trades in goods, dispute resolution mechanisms, co-operation in environmental protection as well as a deal that would allow mainland travelers to make flight transfers through Taiwanese airports.

Lin attempted to downplay media speculation that its 2016 presidential elections would change the working dynamics of cross-strait relations, saying that both negotiating bodies were opting to "serve the people" as their primary objective.

Lin said he was confident that the people would consider how their decisions would reflect upon cross-strait relations when they cast their ballots.

Double Taxation Exemption

Yesterday's double taxation exemption agreement is aimed at corporate entities investing in China that are managed in Taiwan or through a third territory and will protect them from criminal prosecution for tax evasion.

Many Taiwanese businesses went through third-party channels before commerce between both sides was legalized.

Proponents of the policy, including Taiwan's Ministry of Finance, argue that tax exemptions will save businesses NT$3.9 billion (S$168 million) annually.

They also believe that the agreement will spur investment into Taiwan from foreign companies that want to establish a foothold in mainland China.

Aviation Safety

The aviation safety agreement on the other hand would allow carriers from both sides to utilize locally available maintenance and repair facilities from Taiwan and mainland China.

Carriers that operate cross-strait flights will now be able to appoint local maintenance plants for inspections including airworthiness, maintenance service and flight safety. Such measures are thought to benefit carriers by reducing costs and time for repairs, as well as reducing the chance of flight delays for customers.

Flight Transfer

Agreement Delayed

Meanwhile, a key negotiation takeaway for the Taiwanese side was shelved until the next negotiation session as China cited "technical details" for reasons why a tourist flight transfer agreement for Chinese passengers was not among concluded measures yesterday.

Taiwan has been pushing for mainland China to allow its citizens to use Taiwanese airports to continue on to further travel destinations as is common international practice, thereby increasing revenue for its airline carriers.

"One cannot simply walk through an open door," a top Chinese negotiator stated.