MAC plans to allow lower-ranked officials to visit mainland China

The China Post staff

The China Post staff

The government is planning to allow official workers below certain ranking to visit the mainland China, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan’s official organization drafting mainland policy, said yesterday.

Taiwan currently bans all official contacts with the mainland due to political reasons.

The revision, said Chen Ming-tung, deputy head of the MAC, will be made from the standpoint of “legitimacy and convenience.”

Chen disclosed the idea at the council’s weekly briefing yesterday.

According to the official, government workers and police with a ranking below nine are likely to be allowed to visit the mainland.

Government workers are given a ranking, the highest being the 14th, in accordance with their seniority.

Nonetheless, said Chen, an improvement in Beijing’s attitude will remain the determining factor on whether the policy will go ahead as expected.

“Our relations with the mainland have been changing rapidly and are highly intricate. We have to take into consideration Beijing’s cooperation when deciding when to open the policy,” Chen told reporters.

The government will put the policy into force at the most appropriate time, and there is no specific timeframe set for the relaxation, Chen added.

Similarly, the government policy to open the island for mainland tourists will hinge on cross-strait relations, he said.

But the government will still seek to get relevant measures ready ahead of the end of June, as scheduled, he said.

Chen remarks signaled that the government is dragging its foot on opening the island for mainland tourists.

Previously it was reported that the ban on mainland tourists’ visit to Taiwan will be lifted in July.

The Democratic Progressive Party, known for its pro-independence stance, has undertaken a series measures aimed at enhancing cross-strait ties since taking power in May last year.

Nonetheless, there has been little improvement in relations between Taipei and Beijing over the past year.

The latest evidence being the extension of current Taiwan-Hong Kong air pact to the end of the year as both sides have failed to open renewal talks.

The current aviation agreement was due to expire on June 12 but was extended by six months just days before by the four air carriers currently servicing the route.

The four air carriers were China Airlines and Eva Airways of Taiwan, and Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific and Dragon Air.

It remains unknown whether both sides will be able to open talks ahead of the end of the year as Taipei demands semi-official negotiations, an idea which Beijing has rejected.

Beijing is also unhappy with the involvement of the Mainland Affairs Council in talks.

Previously, only the transport ministry was in charge of the talks.