SEF, ARATS finalize pact on weather, earthquake exchange

By Adam Tyrsett Kuo ,The China Post

Cross-strait negotiators yesterday signed agreements on meteorological exchanges and earthquake monitoring. The Taipei-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and the Beijing-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) yesterday met at the Grand Hotel for the 10th round of high-level talks. SEF Chairman Lin Join-sane (林中森) said that due to differences between the two sides of the strait, both sides have different sets of priorities with regard to different issues, but as long as the public’s rights are kept in mind, and as long as the principle of mutual respect is upheld, disputes can be resolved. On the basis of the “1992 consensus,” a total of 21 agreements have been signed after 2008, Lin said, adding that SEF-ARATS talks have pushed cross-strait economic and social development forward as well as helped maintain regional stability. Referring to the recent meeting between the ministers of the Mainland Affairs Council and the Taiwan Affairs Office, Lin said that the normalization of cross-strait interactions has moved into a new phase, and that establishing a mechanism for routine communication and systematizing negotiations are conducive to the protection of public rights. Lin said that the agreements on meteorological exchanges and earthquake monitoring were based on the shared goal of protecting the lives and assets of people on both sides of the strait.

With regard to earthquake monitoring, the setting up of communication channels and the exchange of data collected from the Taiwan Strait and neighboring regions will help authorities obtain a better grasp on seismic activities, the chairman said. With regard to meteorological exchanges, Lin said that the prevention of disasters resulting from typhoons and heavy rainfall is a goal for which both sides should work together with effective communication and exchange of relevant information.

Cross-strait Flights, Layovers According to SEF deputy chief Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀), Lin brought up the subject of mainland Chinese travelers having layovers in Taiwan, whereas Deputy Transportation Minister Chen Jian-yu (陳建宇) added that the issue plays a key role regarding Taiwan’s aerotropolis project as well as the island’s bid to become an international transit hub. Chang said that the mainland Chinese representatives attach great importance to these issues and are willing to look into feasible plans, hoping to conduct discussions in the shortest amount of time; at the same time, the mainland Chinese brought up the topics of shortening travel time for cross-strait flights and exploring new routes. Chang said that the issue of getting mainland Chinese travelers to make stopovers in Taiwan, which is something Taiwan proposed, is separate from the issue of exploring new routes for cross-strait flights, which is something proposed by the mainland Chinese. During negotiations, these two issues will not be tied together, the deputy chief explained. Chang stressed that the issue of aircraft crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait involves national security concerns, and that on this issue, there is no room for discussion. The next round of high-level SEF-ARATS talks will cover issues such as trade in goods, taxes, cross-strait representative offices, cooperation on environmental protection and aviation safety.