Beijing delegation chief complains of Taiwan's reluctance to sign trade pact


THE head of a Beijing delegation to Taiwan has complained about delays in the passage of a controversial trade pact between the mainland and the independent island, Reuters reports.

Passage of the agreement was blocked in March when students stormed the legislature in protest. Suspicions of the mainland have escalated after the student protests over the pact and the recent Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong.

The trade pact would open 80 of China's service sectors to Taiwan and 64 Taiwan sectors to China, was one step away from full ratification in Taiwan's parliament before it was blocked by the students.

The ruling Beijing-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) party is struggling to convince voters of the benefits of deeper ties with China, after the party's defeat in November's local elections that left it facing its biggest crisis in more than a decade.

Beijing's Chen Deming, head of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, is the highest-level mainland official to visit Taiwan since China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou's battering at the polls.

"How is it that negotiations with our own people are proving so difficult?" the Economic Daily News quoted Chen as saying.

In June, violent protests marred the first-ever visit to Taiwan of the Chinese head of its Taiwan Affairs Office, causing him to cut short his trip and underscoring the tension surrounding Mr Chen's visit.

China still considers Taiwan a renegade province and has not ruled out the use of force to bring it under its control, said Reuters.

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