Taipei, Jan. 16 (CNA) Following a proposal by China's Fujian Province that was welcomed by Kinmen's county magistrate, the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) reiterated Wednesday only it has the authority to negotiate with China.
The proposal was made Monday by Fujian Governor Tang Dengjie (唐登傑), when delivering a government work report to the annual session of the provincial people's congress, according to Chinese media.
According to the proposal, Tang will seek to promote exchanges and cooperation between the two sides, including bridge links, and plans to supply water, electricity and gas.
In response to the proposal, Kinmen County Magistrate Yang Cheng-wu (楊鎮浯) of the Kuomintang, who was elected county head in the Nov. 24 local elections, said the county government will organize a delegation to visit Fujian in late January to discuss related matters.
However, SEF spokesperson Kuan An-lu (管安露) said Wednesday that the words of a local authority should not be considered final in any cross-strait agreement.
Meanwhile, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) issued a statement Tuesday saying the proposal falls under the jurisdiction of the central government and therefore needs to be carefully assessed.
Referencing plans by Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) to visit Beijing with 15 heads of KMT-governed cities and counties, Kuan said local governments can certainly visit China, but are not authorized to sign agreements.
She also noted that the SEF, a semi-official intermediary body responsible for cross-strait affairs, is the only agency authorized to conduct cross-strait negotiations.
Only agreements signed between the SEF and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), an organization set up by Beijing to handle technical or business matters with Taiwan, can safeguard people's lawful rights. she added.
Kuan urged local authorities to respect the central government and deal with related matters through the SEF.
Fujian has provided water to Kinmen since last August, following a "water link" deal between China and Taiwan to provide the county with water for 30 years, signed in 2015.
Under the deal, Kinmen agreed to import an average of 34,000 tons of water a day from Fujian at a cost of NT$9.86 (US$0.32) per cubic meter, with daily supply able to rise to 55,000 tons a day, according to Kinmen County Waterworks.
Taiwan spent NT$1.35 billion to build the 16-kilometer-long underground and underwater pipeline that runs from Kinmen's Tianbu Reservoir to the coastal city of Jinjiang in Fujian that made the deal possible.