Chen Yunlin Delegation: Politicians and Bankers

China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) and Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) held preparatory talks in Shenzhen last Monday, led by their respective deputy leaders Zheng Lizhong (郑立中) and Kao Kong-lian (高孔廉). They agreed on most of the schedule for the SEF-ARATS summit in Taiwan from November 3 – 7. The ARATS delegation will be headed by the organization’s chairman Chen Yunlin (陈云林). Chen is to hold talks with SEF’s chairman Jiang Pin-kun (江丙坤) and to meet Taiwan’s president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Europe Journal reported on October 29 (欧洲日报, p. 13).

The same edition also says that Chen will be accompanied by a delegation of more than sixty members, including directors of the Bank of China (中国银行), China Construction Bank (中国建设银行), the Agricultural Bank of China (中国农业银行), The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (中国工商银行), China Minsheng Bank (民生银行), China Merchants Bank (招商银行), China Everbright Bank (光大银行), China Development Bank (中国国家开发银行), China Industrial Bank (兴业银行), [probably] Pudong Development Bank (either 浦东开发银行 or 浦东发展银行), plus from the People’s Bank of China (中国人民银行) and the China Banking Regulatory Commission (银监会). The bankers will discuss the global financial crisis and normalization of banking business between China and Taiwan. More than thirty mainland Chinese journalists will also travel with the delegation.

Items of Chen Yunlin’s visit would be meeting Jiang Pin-kun, signing four agreements (on chartered cargo flights, direct maritime shipping, direct postal service, and cooperation in ensuring food safety), further meetings with Taiwanese public figures, and sightseeing.

Details of Chen Yunlin’s meeting with president Ma were still being discussed, the SEF and ARATS deputy heads said on a press conference in Shenzhen after their preparatory meeting. Kao also said that Chen Yunlin would stay within the region of Taipei, indicating that Chen would not visit Southern Taiwan.

It’s likely that Chen will meet the Taiwanese president – after all, if it was cancelled, the whole SEF-ARATS meeting would look like a failure. President Ma’s central election promise was to get Taiwan out of its current economic doldrums, he banks on improving relations with China as growing business between the two countries could add to economic revival, and according to the leader of Tsingtao Daily’s European edition (星島日報) of October 30, China may see this in line with its support for Hong Kong’s economic policies after the Asian financial crisis in 1997, by letting more mainlanders travelling to Hong Kong (and spend their money there) and by generally closer economic cooperation.

According to the China Post, Ma Ying-jeou said that Chen would address him as “President Ma”. The issue of how both sides would address each other would be handled according to the principles of “reciprocity and dignity”.

The Taiwanese government’s China policy is facing large-scale opposition. DPP spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) told a press conference yesterday that the series of demonstrations, called the “Yellow Ribbon Siege” included a three-day sit-in protest on Jinan Road near the Legislative Yuan beginning tomorrow at 7pm and running through Wednesday, followed by an evening rally that day. President Ma needs to mind the protocol and his own status. Besides, in what is probably Chinese assistance for Taiwan’s president to save face is an ARATS apology for the melanine food scandal.On October 28, Ma said that it took concrete measures to ensure the safety of the Taiwanese public. According to the Wall Street Journal, his popularity rating is only 29%.

Wall Street Journal: The next steps will depend on Beijing, October 30.

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