Nuclear pact to be inked in next cross-strait talks

Mainland Affairs Council Minister Lai Shin-yuan announces Oct. 12 that a cross-strait nuclear safety cooperation pact will be signed at the upcoming high-level talks in mainland China’s Tianjin next week.

The seventh round of high-level talks between Taiwan and mainland China is scheduled for Tianjin Oct. 19 to 21, with the two sides expected to sign an agreement on nuclear power safety cooperation, the Straits Exchange Foundation said Oct. 12.

SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung and his delegation will leave for Tianjin Oct. 19, according to an SEF news release. Chiang and his counterpart Chen Yunlin, head of the Beijing-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, will sign the nuclear pact the following day.

Cross-strait relations have improved significantly since ROC President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008. Since then, the Chiang-Chen meetings have alternated twice a year between Taiwan and mainland China. The SEF and ARATS serve as intermediary agencies for institutionalized talks between the two sides.

Lai Shin-yuan, minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, top planner for Taiwan’s mainland China policy and supervisor of the SEF, said the impending agreement will ensure frequent and transparent information exchanges on nuclear safety.

Taiwan and mainland China began discussing nuclear power safety cooperation in May in the wake of the nuclear crisis in Japan following the magnitude-9 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that hit the country in March, according to Lai.

She said a hotline will be established for nuclear emergencies, but the agreement will not touch on sensitive issues such as nuclear power development, technology transfer and nuclear waste disposal.

“The cross-strait nuclear safety pact is crafted based on international practices such as the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident and Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency,” Lai said.

Regarding another important cross-strait matter, Lai said substantial progress has been made in negotiating an investment protection agreement, but it will not be signed during the upcoming Chiang-Chen talks because further discussions are needed to finalize the wording of the accord.

“It is not that we are not going to sign the agreement, but simply that we need more time considering how complex and highly technical the issues are,” Lai said.

The two sides have achieved a certain degree of understanding on the subject, Lai said, citing as an example their agreement to set up an arbitration mechanism for dealing with person-to-person, person-to-government and government-to-government disputes.

A 24-hour notification system will also be introduced to inform family members and government organizations of any arrests of Taiwanese investors in mainland China, she added. (THN)

Rachel Chan

Taiwan Toaday