Senior officials urge deepening of cross-Strait ties, expansion of exchange

09:14, June 21, 2010      

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Top political advisor Jia Qinglin on Sunday called for expanded exchanges between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, saying "party and regional differences are not an issue in cross-Strait exchange."

Jia, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, made the remarks at the second Straits Forum opened in the mainland's coastal boomtown of Xiamen Saturday.

"As long as people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait continue to forge close exchanges and interact and reduce doubt and misunderstandings, we can have more consensus on boosting the peaceful development of cross-Strait ties, promote our common recognition of the Chinese nation and culture, while contributing to the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation," he said.

Wang Yi, head of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, also called for broad-based participation in cross-Strait exchanges, regardless of "regional, party and ideological differences."

"Cross-Strait exchanges should expand from the trade and economics to other fields, from cities to rural areas, and from the northern part of Taiwan to southern part of the island. Participants of the exchanges should include people at the grassroots level of society," Wang said.

The weeklong forum co-hosted by nine cities in Fujian Province has drawn more than 10,000 Taiwanese guests to 25 activities, including leisure chats, galas and religious activities. Organizers said about 80 percent of the Taiwanese participants this year would be non-officials with over 60 percent from central and southern Taiwan.

Hailing progress made in cross-Strait ties over the past two years, Jia Qinglin said a record high 5.4 million Chinese mainlanders and Taiwanese traveled across the Strait in 2009, including 330,000 Taiwanese who had never been to the mainland before.

Jia welcomed the visit of more Taiwanese compatriots to the mainland to enhance their appreciation of the mainland's social and economic development.

He also encouraged mainlanders to travel to Taiwan more, especially to the central and southern parts of the island.

Acknowledging that some Taiwanese still have insufficient understanding, or even misunderstandings, of the mainland, Jia said "the more people across the Strait agree, the easier it will be for the two sides to resolve the problems challenging the development of cross-Strait ties."

The two sides must continue to advance cross-Strait ties in a step-by-step way while adhering to the the principles of "easy things first and difficult ones later" and "economic issues first and political ones later," and all the while oppose the secessionist activities of the "Taiwan independence" forces and stick to the 1992 Consensus, Jia said.

The top political advisor praised the role of the Straits Forum - now in its second year - in promoting exchange between people of all circles across the Taiwan Strait and its role in the peaceful development of cross-Strait ties.

He encouraged non-government organizations on both the Chinese mainland and Taiwan to play a bigger role in promoting grassroots-level exchange across the Strait.

Wang Yi also said the Chinese mainland will make visits to the mainland by Taiwanese compatriots, especially those who had never been to the mainland, easy.

"The more people that participate in cross-Strait exchanges, the better," Wang said.

He hoped people across the Strait invent new ways to boost exchange.

Both Jia Qingli and Wang Yi said the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, an economic pact similar to a free trade deal between the mainland and Taiwan currently under discussion, will benefit the economic development of both the mainland and the island.



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