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ARATS head expresses hope of returning to Taiwan soon: SEF

2012/08/10 18:43:57

Taipei, Aug. 10 (CNA) The president of the Beijing-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) has expressed hope of visiting Taiwan again in the near future, a Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) official said Friday.

SEF spokesman Ma Shaw-chang said Chen Yunlin mentioned his wish during a high-level meeting a day earlier with his Taiwanese counterpart, SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung, during which two important cross-Taiwan Strait trade pacts were signed.

"Chen said he would like to visit Taiwan again, but there is no exact time or itinerary," Ma said.

Chen had been planning to visit Hualien in eastern Taiwan -- major destinations for tourists from China -- during his just-concluded visit, but was prevented from doing so by the threat of an approaching typhoon.

According to media speculation, the possible timing for such a trip could be around September, as Chen might be transferred to another post after the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China scheduled for shortly after that time, when China will undergo a leadership transition.

He could also lead a cultural delegation to borrow from the experiences of Taiwan's art and creative industry, as ARATS in June set up a center devoted to cross-strait exchanges of calligraphy and paintings.

Chen, who concluded a three-day trip to Taiwan and returned to China Friday, sealed an investment protection pact and a customs cooperation agreement with Chiang.

Government officials said the move could remove more trade barriers between the two sides, with the much-anticipated investment pact touted as something that can secure the rights of Taiwanese businessmen who invest in China.

Critics, however, have pointed out that certain provisions of the agreement do not meet the standards Taiwan had hoped to achieve, for instance, that disputes should be settled by international arbiters.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)