(July 2, 2008) The Chairman of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) of the Republic of China (on Taiwan, ROC) resumed talks on cross-strait relations on June 12, 2008, in Beijing, nearly a decade after their last meeting in Shanghai in October 1998. The semi-official talks were suspended by the PRC after then ROC President Lee Teng-hui proposed a “special state-to-state” model for PRC-ROC ties, which was unacceptable to Beijing. (China, Taiwan Hold First Talks in 9 Years, XINHUA, June 12, 2008, Open Source Center No. FEA20080612712789; TIMELINE – Milestones in China-Taiwan Relations Since 1949, REUTERS, Mar. 20, 2008, available at http://uk.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUKSP28519120080320?sp=true.)
Subsequently, Taiwan adopted a number of new measures to expand ties with mainland China. On June 13, 2008, landmark agreements were inked between ARATS and SEF on weekend cross-strait charter flights, to be made initially via Hong Kong but ultimately through direct routes, and on Mainland residents touring Taiwan, stipulating a quota of 3,000 people per day with at least 10 but not more than 40 people per group, and a length of stay not to exceed 10 days from the second day of arrival. (Full Text of ARATS-SEF Agreement on Cross-Strait Charter Flights, XINHUA, June 13, 2008, Open Source Center No. CPP20080613704002; Full Text of ARATS-SEF Agreement on Mainland Residents Touring Taiwan, XINHUA, June 13, 2008, Open Source Center No. CPP20080613704003.)
On June 25, amendments to the ROC Statute for Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the People of the Mainland Area (issued on July 31, 1992) were promulgated in Taiwan's official gazette. One of the amendments stipulates that the Financial Supervisory Commission under the Executive Yuan (Cabinet) may jointly enact regulations with Taiwan's Central Bank on granting permission for Mainland-issued currency to enter and exit the Taiwan area; formerly, permission was to be granted only “when necessary” by the unspecified “authorities in charge” (art. 38, para. 2). Two other provisions, added to article 92, stipulate penalties for violating provisions on the exchange, sale, and other transactions involving Mainland-issued currency that are set forth in article 38.
On June 26, the Executive Yuan “approved a raft of measures,” to be implemented over a month, “aimed at liberalizing cross-strait securities investments and transforming Taiwan into an asset-management and capital-raising hub.” The five measures comprising the financial initiative include: abolition of the requirement that foreign institutional investors, when registering with the Taiwan Stock Exchange, declare that their capital is not from mainland China; open mutual listings of exchange-traded funds on the Taiwan and Hong Kong stock markets; granting of permission to companies listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to obtain a second listing on Taiwan's stock market and issue Taiwan Depository Receipts; loosening of restrictions on investment in mutual funds with Mainland capital; and permissibility of Taiwan institutional investors to buy into the Mainland's securities and futures market. In regard to the government's plan to lift the ban on Taiwan securities, futures, and investment-funds management firms investing in their Mainland counterparts, it was reported that the Financial Supervisory Commission would revise the relevant rules to allow the investments to total as much as 20 percent of the dealers' net worth, doubling the previous limit. (Edwin Hsiao, ROC Eases Investment Rules, 25:26 TAIWAN JOURNAL (July 4, 2008), available at http://taiwanjournal.nat.gov.tw/site/tj/ct.asp?CtNode=122&xItem=44487.)
In addition, on June 30, the Government Information Office announced that regulations on permits for Mainland correspondents would be eased; two of the Mainland's official news organizations (XINHUA NEWS AGENCY and PEOPLE'S DAILY) would be able to resume posting correspondents in Taiwan; and the journalists' permissible length of stay would be extended to 90 days from the current maximum of 30. With GIO and National Immigration Agency approval, the authorization is renewable on a one-time basis for a maximum period of up to six months. Taiwan correspondents who work on the Mainland “were offered identical permit conditions, according to Vanessa Yea-ping Shih, the GIO Minister. Although the PRC approved the basing of Taiwan correspondents on the Mainland in 1993, “it continues to block the Web sites of Taiwan's two major Chinese-language news organizations, the China Times and the United Daily” and '[r]eporters from Taiwan's Liberty Times and the Hong Kong-based Apple Daily occasionally face difficulties when attempting to obtain permits for mainland China.” (June Tsai, Government Readmits Banned Media Outlets, 25:26 TAIWAN JOURNAL (July 4, 2008), available at http://taiwanjournal.nat.gov.tw/site/tj/ct.asp?CtNode=122&xItem=44473.)
According to one analysis, however, reporting from both the PRC and Taiwan “suggests future talks may face challenges, in part due to ongoing debates in Taiwan over areas of authority in cross-Strait dialogue.” (OSC Analysis: China-Taiwan – Leaders Hail Resumption of Talks; Challenges Remain, OSC ANALYSIS, June 16, 2008, Open Source Center No. CPF20080617554001.) In this connection, both ruling party and opposition politicians in Taiwan have stated that SEF-ARATS agreements require the legislature's approval (even though existing law does not mandate ratification by the legislature of the agreements), “suggesting the Legislative Yuan is attempting to ensure a role for itself in cross-Strait negotiations,” and, according to Legislative Yuan President Wang Jin-pyng, the legislature plans to establish a task force to monitor the negotiations in order to protect Taiwan's security and the interests of its people. (Id.)