Taiwan's new government has no schedule for resuming China trade talks

Taiwan's new President Tsai Ing-wen chatting with Vice-president Chen Chien-jen during a banquet in Taipei.
Taiwan's new President Tsai Ing-wen chatting with Vice-president Chen Chien-jen during a banquet in Taipei.PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI (REUTERS) - Taiwan's new government has no schedule for re-starting trade talks with China, Economics Minister Lee Chih-kung said on Wednesday (May 25), adding that the independence-leaning ruling party first wanted to pass a Bill governing oversight of all aspects of negotiations with Beijing.

Beijing has already condemned the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) proposed "supervisory law", and critics in Taiwan say it could paralyse relations with China.

The Bill requires government officials to get legislative consent before, during and after any talks with Beijing. They cannot sign any agreements with China before all three stages of legislative approval are completed.

"The cross-strait supervisory Bill is still in Parliament. Trade talks need the oversight, so to hold trade talks would be of no use," Mr Lee said in his first news conference since Friday's inauguration of President Tsai Ing-wen.

Ms Tsai has said democratic principles will rule Taiwan's ties with Beijing while reiterating her government will keep the peace and forge a consistent, predictable and sustainable relationship.

She urged China in her inaugural speech to “set aside the baggage of history and engage in positive dialogue”.

China regards Taiwan as a wayward province to be taken back by force if necessary ever since defeated Nationalists fled to Taiwan in 1949 after a civil war with China’s Communists.

The DPP, which distrusts Beijing and traditionally supports independence for Taiwan, took over the reins of government from the more China-friendly Kuomintang Party (KMT), which had held power for eight years.

China on Wednesday reiterated its opposition to the DPP’s pro-independence stance, warning of negative consequences if the party fails to recognise Taiwan is a part of China, under a “One China” principle.

“If the ‘One China’ principle cannot be upheld, political mutual trust will no longer exist and is bound to have adverse effects,” said Mr Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, at a regular news conference.

“Everyone is very clear about the DPP’s history. This party adheres to the ‘Taiwan independence’ stance...Obviously, it is precisely the DPP which needs to drop the baggage of history,” he said.