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Cross-Straits affairs chiefs meet at historical site

Updated: 2014-02-14 14:18
( Xinhua)

SHANGHAI - Cross-Straits affairs chiefs from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan enjoyed a chat over tea on Thursday evening at the Peace Hotel in Shanghai, carrying on the legacy of another historic meeting in the same place in 1998.

Zhang Zhijun, head of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office (SCTAO), joined visiting Taiwan's mainland affairs chief Wang Yu-chi at a cafe in the hotel, which looks over the Bund. Tea lasted for more than two hours.

Sixteen years ago, on October 14, 1998, Wang Daohan, then president of the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), and Koo Chen-fu, chairman of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) met at the hotel. At that meeting the two sides agreed to begin a cross-Straits political dialogue.

The 1998 meeting was the second between Wang and Koo, following their groundbreaking one in Singapore in April 1993, which marked the beginning of cross-Straits engagement and laid the foundation for further improvement of ties.

Unfortunately, after 1998, any further Wang-Koo meeting was forced to be suspended because the then Taiwan leader Lee Teng-hui began to pursue "Taiwan independence."

It was not until 2008 that the heads of ARATS and SEF met again, in Beijing. Since then, nine rounds of talks have been held and a number of important cross-Straits agreements signed, including lifting bans on direct shipping, air transport and postal services in 2008, and the long-awaited Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement in 2010.

The chat over tea followed formal talks on Tuesday afternoon in Nanjing, capital of neighboring Jiangsu Province, the first official contact between cross-Straits affairs departments of the two sides since 1949.

A statement from the SCTAO said the chiefs were both positive about the outcome of their meeting and expected to see each other again soon.

The meeting between Zhang and Wang was a natural development after efforts to promote peace and development across the Taiwan Straits, Professor Su Chia-hung of Taiwan's Fooyin University told Xinhua.

At Tuesday's meeting, the two agreed to open a regular communication channel between their departments and Zhang accepted Wang's invitation to visit Taiwan.

Zhang considered their meeting the result of deepening mutual political trust on the basis of the 1992 consensus, while Wang described it as "an unimaginable occasion in earlier years."

Relations between the mainland and Taiwan stalled when the Kuomintang, led by Chiang Kai-shek, fled to Taiwan in 1949 after being defeated in a civil war.

Business and personnel exchanges resumed in the late 1980s, and in the early 1990s the two sides started to engage with each other through two non-governmental organizations, the ARATS and SEF.

Wang arrived in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, on Tuesday morning and reached Shanghai on Thursday.

On Thursday afternoon, he met a couple of mainland experts on Taiwan affairs and listened to their opinions on the cross-Straits situation and proposals to improve ties.

"Through such a meeting, we understand more of the mainland's policies and public opinions and also had a chance to explain our stance. It will help bring out policies that both sides understand," he said after the meeting.

Also on Thursday morning, Zhang paid tribute to the tomb of Wang Daohan in Shanghai. He said current cross-Straits relations would be a comfort for Wang who was devoted to breaking the ice and building a bridge between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits.

"We all know that cross-Straits relations will not always go well and there are difficulties to be overcome and barriers to be removed," Zhang said. "The expectation of compatriots from both sides for peace and wellbeing will be our motivation to keep working."

Wang is scheduled to leave Shanghai for Taipei on Friday at noon.


Cross-Straits affairs chiefs meet at historical site

Cross-Straits affairs chiefs meet at historical site

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