More cross-Straits ex­changes urged

Main­land’s chief of Tai­wan af­fairs vis­its is­land to en­hance re­la­tions

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By AN BAIJIE an­bai­jie@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The main­land’s chief of­fi­cial on Tai­wan af­fairs called for more people-to-people ex­changes across the Tai­wan Straits dur­ing a visit to New Taipei City on Thurs­day.

Dur­ing a meet­ing with city res­i­dents, Zhang Zhi­jun, di­rec­tor of the Tai­wan Af­fairs Of­fice of the State Coun­cil, said there are many dif­fer­ences be­tween people from the main­land and Tai­wan, but each should open up lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion to bet­ter un­der­stand the other.

The meet­ing at a res­i­den­tial com­plex on Thurs­day came on the sec­ond day of his four-day trip. Zhang gave out panda toys to chil­dren and held closed-door talks with res­i­dents for about 30 min­utes.

The toys were repli­cas of Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, two pan­das the main­land do­nated to Tai­wan in De­cem­ber 2008.

Dur­ing a per­for­mance by dancers at the res­i­den­tial com­plex, Zhang snapped pho­tos.

At a nurs­ing cen­ter, Zhang had lunch and chat­ted with el­derly people at a cafe­te­ria.

In a meet­ing with New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu, Zhang said the city has co­op­er­ated with main­land cities in a num­ber of sec­tors — in­clud­ing trade, agri­cul­ture, ed­u­ca­tion, health­care and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion — with in­creas­ing grass­roots ex­changes and com­mu­ni­ca­tion among people from both sides.

“I vis­ited New Taipei as my first stop to know more about how the city was built and about the lives of its people,” Zhang said.

Small and medium-sized en­ter­prises should ben­e­fit from cross-Straits ex­changes, he said, adding that busi­ness co­op­er­a­tion is an im­por­tant is­sue for both main­land and Tai­wan au­thor­i­ties.

Zhang said af­ter meet­ing with res­i­dents on Thurs­day that it was a happy ex­pe­ri­ence and he had a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of Taiwanese so­ci­ety.

“There are some 200 people in the State Coun­cil Tai­wan Af­fairs Of­fice, and nearly all of them have vis­ited Tai­wan, ex­cept me,” he said.

It’s the first time that a di­rec­tor of the State Coun­cil Tai­wan Af­fairs Of­fice has vis­ited Tai­wan since 1949. He is sched­uled to visit Kaoh­si­ung on Fri­day and Taichung on Satur­day.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung­bin ar­rived in Bei­jing on Thurs­day for a four-day trip to pro­mote shop­ping and tourism in Taipei.

Chen Xian­cai, a pro­fes­sor from the Tai­wan In­sti­tute at Xi­a­men Univer­sity, said Zhang’s grass­roots meet­ings in Tai­wan, es­pe­cially with the younger gen­er­a­tions, will help se­nior main­land of­fi­cials gain more pop­u­lar­ity among lo­cal Taiwanese people.

The visit is ex­pected to ap­pease anx­i­ety in Tai­wan over the rapid de­vel­op­ment of cross-Straits ties af­ter a re­cent protest against a ser­vice trade pact that would open up dozens of in­dus­tries from both sides, he said.

On March 18, hun­dreds of stu­dents stormed into the build­ing of the is­land’s leg­isla­tive cham­ber and oc­cu­pied it to protest the trade pact. The pro­test­ers with­drew in early April af­ter the pact was sent to the leg­isla­tive cham­ber for a de­tailed re­view.

The cross-Straits re­la­tion­ship has stepped into a “deep-wa­ter zone” that re­quires both sides to take wiser mea­sures to main­tain sta­bil­ity and progress, said Zhu Wei­dong, deputy di­rec­tor of the the In­sti­tute of Tai­wan Stud­ies at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sci­ences.

“We don’t ex­pect all of the prob­lems to be ad­dressed in just one visit, but this is a good be­gin­ning,” he said. Xin­hua con­trib­uted to this story.

WANG JUEWEI / FOR CHINA DAILY

Zhang Zhi­jun (cen­ter), di­rec­tor of the State Coun­cil Tai­wan Af­fairs Of­fice, wear­ing a tra­di­tional cos­tume, holds hands with Atayal people dur­ing his visit to the Wu­lai Scenic Area in New Taipei City on Thurs­day.

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