China says sacking of Taiwan official will not affect ties

Chang Hsien-yao, who until last month was the vice chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan's government agency responsible for cross-strait relations, has been under investigation by the council and judicial authorities over what the council
Chang Hsien-yao, who until last month was the vice chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan's government agency responsible for cross-strait relations, has been under investigation by the council and judicial authorities over what the council said was possible wrongdoing. -- PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China brushed off concern on Wednesday that the sacking of a Taiwan official involved in talks with Beijing would affect the development of ties, saying it was an individual case.

Chang Hsien-yao, who until last month was the vice chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan's government agency responsible for cross-strait relations, has been under investigation by the council and judicial authorities over what the council said was possible wrongdoing.

Chang has said his removal could damage relations. But China's Taiwan Affairs Office said that was not the case.

"Our general view is that we hope individual cases do not affect cross-strait ties," spokesman Ma Xiaoguang told a regular news briefing in Beijing. "At the same time we believe that the process of the peaceful development of cross-strait ties will not stagnate because of a single case," he added, without elaborating.

China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island at the end of a civil war in 1949, and China has never renounced the use of force to bring it under Beijing's control.

While relations have improved under the island's China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou, who has signed a series of landmark economic deals since taking office in 2008, deep political and military suspicions remain.

Chang has denied any wrongdoing, and asserted his loyalty to his duties and to the president.

Chang's case has come as mid-level officials from China and Taiwan are expected to gather in Taiwan this month to discuss a controversial pact related to tradeable goods.

The deal stalled in Taiwan's parliament following protests against its passage a few months ago. The head of China's Taiwan Affairs Office was also forced to cut short his first-ever visit to the island in June following heated public opposition.