Of­fi­cial: Tai­wan’s choices re­spected

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - China - By AN BAIJIE

Main­land au­thor­i­ties are re­spect­ful of the Tai­wan people’s choice of so­cial sys­tem and life­style, said the main­land’s chief of­fi­cial on Tai­wan af­fairs.

The main­land and Tai­wan have evolved with dif­fer­ent so­cial sys­tems, val­ues, thoughts and life­styles af­ter decades of de­vel­op­ment, and main­land au­thor­i­ties re­spect those dif­fer­ences, said Zhang Zhi­jun, di­rec­tor of State Coun­cil Tai­wan Af­fairs Of­fice.

Zhang made the re­marks dur­ing a meet­ing with Kaoh­si­ung Mayor Chen Chu in Tai­wan on Fri­day morn­ing.

“We wel­come people from all walks of life in Tai­wan, no mat­ter what their re­gions, par­ties or reli­gions are, to jointly pro­mote the peace­ful de­vel­op­ment of cross-Straits ties,” he said.

Even though there re­main some chal­lenges and prob­lems, the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the main­land and Tai­wan has im­proved in re­cent decades, which has ben­e­fited people from both sides, he said.

The two of­fi­cials dis­cussed prac­ti­cal is­sues, such as open­ing more air routes across the Straits, giv­ing farm­ers and fish­er­men more ben­e­fits from cross-Straits ex­changes and im­prov­ing the qual­ity of the tourism in­dus­try.

“We need to hear the opin­ions of dif­fer­ent people, in­clud­ing the grass­roots of south­ern Tai­wan, to en­sure that more people will en­joy the bonus of peace­ful de­vel­op­ment of crossStraits ties,” Zhang said.

He ac­knowl­edged that ge­o­graph­i­cal dis­tance is not the sole hur­dle. Psy­cho­log­i­cal gaps also ex­ist and should be ad­dressed by more com­mu­ni­ca­tion, he said.

The meet­ing was sched­uled to last 30 min­utes. How­ever, the two of­fi­cials talked for well over an hour.

Chen told re­porters af­ter the meet­ing that she did not talk about the “pro-in­de­pen­dence” prin­ci­ple of the Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party even though she is a DPP mem­ber.

Zhang vis­ited a vil­lage that was de­stroyed by a hur­ri­cane in 2009, of­fer­ing con­do­lences for the 462 vic­tims of the dis­as­ter and ex­tend­ing his best wishes to the vil­lagers.

At the vil­lage, Zhang read a let­ter writ­ten by a pupil who sur­vived the Wenchuan earthquake of May 2008 that left more than 80,000 people miss­ing or dead in Sichuan prov­ince.

In the let­ter, the child ex­pressed grat­i­tude to res­cuers from Tai­wan who helped people to rebuild their homes and lives dur­ing the hard times af­ter the quake.

People from the main­land and in Tai­wan share bonds as well as a cer­tain sad­ness be­cause “we are of the same fam­ily”, Zhang said.

On Fri­day af­ter­noon, Zhang vis­ited a green­house and tasted the fruit. He then went to the Bud­dhist or­ga­ni­za­tion Fo Guang Shan to meet its founder, Mas­ter Hs­ing Yun.

Zhang kicked off his four­day trip to Tai­wan on Wed­nes­day. It’s the first time that a di­rec­tor of the State Coun­cil Tai­wan Af­fairs Of­fice has vis­ited the is­land since 1949.

Chen Xian­cai, pro­fes­sor of cross-Straits re­search at Xi­a­men Univer­sity, said that by vis­it­ing or­di­nary people at the grass­roots level, Zhang has ex­tended gen­uine friend­ship to the Tai­wan people, which is im­por­tant to boost ties across the Straits.

Even though main­land au­thor­i­ties have crit­i­cized the DPP many times be­cause of its po­lit­i­cal stance, Zhang nev­er­the­less met DPP mem­ber Chen, the Kaoh­si­ung mayor, to show the main­land au­thor­i­ties’ con­fi­dence in ad­dress­ing the tough is­sues, he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Zhang Zhi­jun (left), di­rec­tor of the State Coun­cil Tai­wan Af­fairs Of­fice, re­ceives a hat as a gift from Kaoh­si­ung Mayor Chen Chu dur­ing their meet­ing in Tai­wan’s south­ern city of Kaoh­si­ung on Fri­day.

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