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Home >> China
UPDATED: 12:13, April 26, 2007
Hu, Lien 'likely to meet' in Beijing this weekend
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Hu Jintao, general-secretary of the Central Committee of Communist Party of China and Lien Chan, honorary chairman of Taiwan's leading opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party are likely to meet this weekend, a mainland official said yesterday.

Yang Yi, a spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said the pair might meet during the third Cross-Straits Economic, Trade and Cultural Forum being held in Beijing this Saturday and Sunday.

"Arrangements for the meeting are being made," he told a regular press conference.

If realized, this would be the pair's third meeting since April 2005, when Lien, then KMT chairman, made a historic visit to the mainland and met Hu in Beijing. It was the first top-level talks between the CPC and KMT in 60 years.

The two met again in 2006, during the second cross-Straits economic, trade and cultural forum held in Beijing.

Yang said that about 500 representatives from both sides would take part in the forum this year, with more than 300 of them coming from Taiwan.

Besides party members, businessmen engaged in cross-Straits travel, education and tourism from both sides will also be present, Yang said.

He said representatives from the two sides will exchange views on topics of common concern, including direct flights, education and tourism.

Yang also slammed the attempt by Taiwan authorities to seek membership of the World Health Organization (WHO), saying there already exists a WHO mechanism to protect international health concerns on the island.

Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian sent a letter to the WHO director-general Margaret Chan on April 11 requesting WHO membership for Taiwan.

Yang said Taiwan authorities are using WHO membership as a political ploy aimed at elevating their secessionist activities to the international stage.

"We strongly oppose such activities," Yang said, adding that the move should also be opposed by the international community.

The WHO is a specialized organization under the United Nations, to which only sovereign states can join, he said.

"As a part of China, Taiwan is not eligible to join the WHO as a member or quasi-member. Neither is it qualified to join the WHO as an observer," Yang said.

He said the Chinese mainland is highly attentive to the need to protect the health rights and interests of its Taiwanese compatriots and has made many efforts to push forward cross-Straits health and medical exchanges and cooperation.

Source: Xinhua/China Daily

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