Former VP Lien meets with China’s Hu

The China Post news staff

Former Vice President Lien Chan met with Chinese President Hu Jin-tao in Japan yesterday on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, with the pair spelling out a common goal of increasing cross-strait collaboration. Lien, who is President Ma Ying-jeou’s envoy to the summit, and Hu agreed that both sides should make good use of their own competitiveness, and join forces to vie for global business opportunities. Lien — who is also honorary chairman of the ruling Kuomintang, visited Hu — who is also secretary general of the Chinese Communist Party — at the Chinese leader’s hotel in Yokohama, where the APEC summit is taking place. They addressed each other with their party titles, apparently to avoid the political implications of their government positions. Both leaders said they believe that the signing of the cross-strait economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) in June marked a milestone in Taipei-Beijing ties.

They said both sides should look upon the ECFA as a good foundation for building stable mutual ties.

Taiwan’s presidents have been blocked from APEC leadership summits by China, which claims sovereignty over the island.

But since Ma became president, cross-strait tensions have eased, and both sides have opened their doors wider to each other for economic exchange, including the inking of the ECFA and the addition of more cross-strait direct flights. Taipei is banking on the ECFA — which allows for tariff cuts for both sides’ imports — as a major driver of the Taiwan’s economy.

During the meeting, Lien expressed the hope that the ECFA will help Taiwan blend into the economic integration in East Asia and enhance Taiwan’s role in the world market.

Lien also urged China to allow Taiwan’s small to medium-size businesses to have greater access to its market in future ECFA negotiations.

Taiwan and China have yet to discuss issues related to merchandise and service trade, as well as the establishment of mechanisms related to trade arbitration and investment guarantee under the ECFA.

Hu, apart from economic issues, also suggested that both sides conduct consultations for matters concerning Taiwan’s participation in international civilian and non-government organizations.

He said such consultations will “avoid unnecessary internal conflicts and unhappy developments” — remarks possibly prompted by a recent row between Taiwan’s and China’s delegations to a film festival in Japan. The Chinese president also praised Taiwan’s pavilion in the recently concluded Shanghai World Expo.

It is the third consecutive year that Lien has represented Ma in the APEC summit. APEC is a forum for 21 Pacific Rim economies that seeks to promote free trade and economic cooperation.

Later during a luncheon hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Lien was seated next to U.S. President Barack Obama.