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Cross-Straits ties should ride 'good momentum'
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08:11, July 10, 2008

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Both sides of the Taiwan Straits should ride on the current momentum of warming ties and move forward by addressing existing problems and possible future ones, the Chinese mainland Taiwan affairs chief said yesterday.

"While the cross-Straits relationship faces unprecedented good opportunities, some historical problems also exist and new ones might surface," Wang Yi, director of both the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, said at the opening ceremony of a symposium hosted by the Cross-Straits Relations Research Center (CSRRC).

The forum was the first of its kind held after the warming up of relations between the two sides.

"Both sides should solve current disputes cool-headedly and maintain peaceful development," Wang, who has held his appointment as head of Taiwan affairs for a month, said on his first official trip out of Beijing.

His comments come amid a period of rapprochement in cross-Straits relations, where the latest development saw tourist groups arriving in Taiwan on inaugural weekend charter flights from the mainland.

Taiwan has restricted trade and travel with the mainland since 1949, but the island's new leader, Ma Ying-jeou, has helped open doors to warmer ties.

The two sides last month held their first direct talks in a decade and signed agreements to launch the weekend direct charter flights, allowing mainland people to visit the island.

Still, more profound issues, including political and military concerns, are still considered far from being resolved.

Wang said that pioneering work to better relations, based on an objective view of history and a forward-looking attitude, was needed to explore new ways to build on improving relations across the Taiwan Straits.

"The new, positive situation in cross-Straits relations needs new ideas on how to enhance ties through peaceful means," Wang said.

History should be reviewed in a sober way, he added.

"It is particularly meaningful to understand the significance of fighting 'Taiwan independence' as well as following the 1992 Consensus," Wang said, referring to the consensus where both sides of the Straits agree that there is only one China in the world despite their different interpretations of the political meaning of "one China".

Wang said the proposition raised by the CPC to build mutual trust, lay aside disputes, seek consensus and shelve differences, and create a win-win situation across the Straits, would be a practical guide to a brighter, peaceful future.

"I hope all participants of the forum will initiate new concepts or advice on future policy," he said.

The CSRRC, established in September 2000, includes retired key policymakers and renowned researchers of politics, economics, law, military affairs, history and foreign relations.

The two-day symposium attracted 171 participants, including 96 from Taiwan. It held discussions on the prospects and peaceful development of cross-Straits relations.

Taiwan's New Party chairman, Yok Mu-ming, who also attended the forum, said that "more in-depth communication should be carried forward after a good start to the cross-Straits direct flights on July 4".

For Huang Renwei, vice-president of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, a closer partnership between the two sides in economics and trade will help address political and security problems.

For instance, as long as cross-Straits tourism increases and more people from across the Straits travel to other countries, both sides might call for dual consular protection and a second passport, Huang said.

"Researchers and businessmen from the two sides can also work together in building the same brands, studying climate change and environmental protection, and jointly seeking a larger role in the international community," Huang said.

Taiwan University professor Chang Lin-cheng also said that, despite an array of topics covered, the two sides should take a step-by-step approach in pursuing peaceful development.

Cross-Straits communication should proceed on topics that people can agree on, including economic and cultural communication, and gradually advance to more issues, based on adequate trust, Chang said.

Zhang Hanlin, president of the WTO Research Institute, University of International Business and Economics, proposed to set up a free trade zone of the two sides to join efforts and win more international business and settle international trade disputes.

"This is a good approach to jointly face the challenges of globalization," Zhang told the forum.

Source: China Daily

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