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Taiwan, China officials meet in Nanjing

Publication Date : 12-02-2014

 

Meeting sets milestone in the history of cross-Strait relations since the mid-20th century

 

Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi arrived in Nanjing yesterday and met with his mainland Chinese counterpart, Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Director Zhang Zhijun.

Wang and Zhang referred to each other by their formal titles, setting a milestone in the history of cross-Strait relations since the mid-20th century.

Given that both the ROC and the PRC exercise a policy of not recognising each other as a legitimate entity, semi-official organisations such as Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), which reports to the MAC, and mainland China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), which reports to the TAO, were created as windows for cross-strait exchange.

Prior to yesterday's meeting, Wang and Zhang met briefly last year at an Apec meeting in Bali in a “non-official” context.

Before departing for Nanjing, Wang told reporters that the MAC will not sign any agreements or memoranda of understanding with the TAO during his four-day visit.

In his opening statement in Nanjing, the minister said that cross-Strait relations have opened a new chapter, with the heads of the MAC and the TAO being able to meet in a formal context to discuss issues that both the people of mainland China and Taiwan are concerned about.

That both MAC and TAO representatives are able to sit down and face each other pragmatically is a precious development virtually unimaginable in the past, Wang said.

The minister expressed the wish that both sides of the strait can continue to pursue an expansion of relations under the 1992 consensus.

MAC, TAO aim for periodic communications: Zhang

Meanwhile, Zhang expressed his hope to visit Taiwan in the near future, adding that the mainland Chinese and the people of Taiwan belong to the same family.

The director said that both sides of the strait should firmly resolve to maintain stable relations.

From military confrontation to political confrontation, cross-strait relations have undergone many challenges during the past several decades, but these relations have gradually moved toward stability, breaking the ice of isolation, Zhang said.

It has been a difficult road toward stability, paved by the contributions of countless people across the strait, Zhang said, adding that both mainland China and Taiwan should cherish and continue pushing for peaceful development.

Issues discussed

According to the MAC, both sides have agreed to set up a mechanism for communication in order to pragmatically handle major cross-strait issues. This mechanism will cover cross-strait visits between the heads of the MAC and the TAO. In addition, both sides have also agreed to grant immigration privileges to each other's representatives.

The MAC added that Wang urged the mainland Chinese authorities to provide better health care for Taiwanese students in mainland China, while Zhang responded that his side is willing to expand health care for Taiwanese students and get them covered by medical insurance like mainland Chinese students.

Wang also stressed that joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is an important objective for Taiwan, and that the expansion and deepening of cross-strait economic cooperation as well as joint participation in regional economic integration should be sought for equally.

The greater the participation of Taiwan in regional and global integration, the greater the Taiwanese people's confidence in and support for cross-strait trade liberalization will be, helping push Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement follow-up issues forward, Wang said.

The MAC added that Wang has formally invited Zhang to Taiwan.

Meanwhile, the minister told reporters that the issue of a meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou and Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping was not discussed, and that the subject was not included in the agenda in the first place.

 

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