MAC urges Taiwanese not to attend Straits Forum in China

07/01/2022 04:51 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, July 1 (CNA) Taiwanese have been urged by the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan's top government agency that handles cross-Taiwan Strait affairs, not to attend the upcoming Straits Forum in China, with the MAC warning that China could use the annual forum to intensify its "United Front" campaign against Taiwan.

China has been using the event as part of a major propaganda campaign against Taiwan -- the United Front -- which aims to persuade Taiwanese who favor Beijing to exercise influence over other Taiwanese, the MAC said in a statement released Wednesday.

The Straits Forum has become a platform for Beijing to "divide" the people of Taiwan, the MAC said.

The MAC's warning came after the Taiwan Affairs Office of China's State Council announced earlier on the same day that the 14th Straits Forum is scheduled to open in Xiamen in China's Fujian province in mid-July.

Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光), head of the Taiwan Affairs Office, said the 14th forum would follow the concept that "both sides across the Taiwan Strait are one family," adhere to the aims of being "civil, grassroots, and extensive", and further efforts to "expand non-governmental exchanges and deepen integrated development" among people in China and Taiwan.

Through these efforts, Ma said, the upcoming forum is expected to continue to play a positive role in promoting the "spiritual harmony" of the people across the Taiwan Strait.

While the Taiwan Affairs Office did not disclose any exact timetable for the forum, the local media cited unnamed sources as reporting that the meeting will be held July 12-14 with the major conference scheduled to open on July 13.

In response, the MAC said the Taiwan government would continue to bar central government officials from attending the forum, and discourage local government officials and private organizations from taking part.

The council called on any Taiwanese who conduct exchanges across the Taiwan Strait not to participate in activities involving the "one country, two systems" mechanism or enter "democratic negotiations" defined by China in a bid to protect the interests of the Taiwanese people.

In the past, the Straits Forum was held in May or June. But, amid COVID-19 concerns, the 2020 meeting was postponed to late September of that year.

In 2021, the forum was further delayed to December, when Eric Chu (朱立倫), chairman of the China-friendly Kuomintang, addressed the opening through a pre-recorded video.

In his speech, Chu vowed to abide by the KMT's charter and platform to push for the peaceful development of the relationship across the Taiwan Strait.

He proposed that both sides of the Taiwan Strait work together to take on climate change, cut carbon emissions, and strive for economic recovery in the post-pandemic era.

Due to the pandemic, the number of Taiwanese participants at the forum has been on the decline in the past two years.

When asked if the KMT should send representatives to the forum this year, Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安), the KMT's candidate for Taipei in November's mayoral election, said Friday he believed it was crucial for Taiwan and China to "maintain peaceful and stable interactions under the premise of equality and dignity."

(By Shen Peng-ta, Chang Shu-ling and Frances Huang)

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