Taiwan urges China to allow visits to Taiwanese prisoners


TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan’s top official in charge of mainland China affairs said Saturday that in the negotiations on the establishment of reciprocal offices on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, Beijing should grant Taiwan personnel the right to visit Taiwanese prisoners in China.

“We believe if the mainland really values how the Taiwanese people feel, and if it wishes to improve mutual political trust between both sides, it will grant Taiwan representative office personnel the right to visit (inmates) for humanitarian reasons,” said Wang Yu-chi, head of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council.

Visitation rights are an important issue to the public and to all political parties in Taiwan, where freedom and human rights are highly regarded, Wang said in a speech to university students at the opening of a three-day seminar in Taipei on China policies.

He said China’s unwillingness to grant such rights has been the main obstacle in the negotiations between Taipei and Beijing on setting up reciprocal representative offices.

China has been immovable on this issue, on the grounds that such visits are not permissible under its laws, Wang said.

Matters such as the issuance of travel documents and visitation rights may be politically sensitive, but both sides should handle them wisely and practically in the negotiations since they are issues that pertain to the rights and welfare of Taiwanese citizens in China, he said.