Taiwan protests China’s bid to block trade pacts

June 2nd, 2010 - 7:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Taipei, June 2 (DPA) Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou Wednesday objected to China’s bid to block the island from signing free-trade pacts with other countries, saying it is Taipei’s right to do so.
“We openly demand that the mainland Chinese authorities not block Taiwan from signing free trade agreements with its trading partners,” Ma’s spokesman Lo Chih-chiang said.

His comment came a day after China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Chaoxu said Chinese authorities “firmly oppose any forms of official contact with Taiwan” by countries that have diplomatic relations with Beijing.

Beijing opposes such trade deals because it regards Taiwan as a Chinese territory rather than a sovereign nation since the two sides split at the end of a civil war in 1949.

Lo said Taiwan and China are both members of the World Trade Organisation, and each had the right to sign trade agre ements as they chose.

The Chinese response was described by local media as a blow to Ma, who has sought to improve relations with China in the hope of being allowed to expand ties with other countries.

Ma is pushing for the signing of a limited trade pact with China later this month.

The opposition pro-independence camp Wednesday heaped scorn on Ma’s China-friendly policy, saying Beijing’s stance shattered his illusion of winning concessions from the mainland in return.

Cross-strait relations have been improved since Ma became president in 2008, and discarded his predecessor Chen Shui-bian’s pro-independence rhetoric.

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