Lien calls for closer economic relations

By Xing Zhigang (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-04-14 09:07
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Lien Chan, former chairman of Taiwan's opposition Kuomintang (KMT), yesterday called for stronger economic co-operation across the Straits under a peaceful and mutually-beneficial framework.

Leading a 170-member delegation of party officials, business leaders and academics, he flew to Beijing via Hong Kong to attend an economic forum.

Cross-Straits economic and trade relations have grown close against the backdrop of economic globalization, Lien said during a brief speech at Beijing Capital International Airport. "We look forward to making concerted efforts to enhance bilateral economic and trade co-operation," he said at a red-carpet welcome ceremony.

He stressed that compatriots on both sides should make joint efforts so that "the rare (development) opportunity for the Chinese nation can be seized."

The visit was the third trip to the mainland by Lien, who yesterday said he felt at home in Beijing again.

Last April, he became the first KMT leader to visit the mainland in 56 years and met Hu Jintao, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), to formally end the decades-old enmity of the two parties.

Following their historic meeting, Hu and Lien issued a joint statement pledging to push for cross-Straits talks and pursue closer economic and trade links.

The two-day Cross-Straits Economic and Trade Forum that opens today at Beijing Hotel is part of efforts by the CPC and KMT to promote stable and peaceful ties between Taiwan and the mainland.

The event, originally planned to take place in Taipei last December, had to be rescheduled because Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration refused entry to the mainland delegation.

More than 500 participants from the mainland and Taiwan are expected to attend the forum.

Topics to be discussed cover  economic integration, allowing mainland tourists to visit the island and cross-Straits co-operation in agriculture and banking.

On Sunday, Hu is scheduled to meet Lien, now honorary KMT chairman, for the second time in a year.

After the meeting, Lien will fly to the southeastern city of Zhangzhou in Fujian Province to visit the tombs of his ancestors. He will also travel to Zhejiang Province and Shanghai.