Taiwan seeks closer ties with mainland

By Xie Yu (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-07-12 07:16
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Taiwan seeks closer ties with mainland
A group of women in costumes pour water drawn from rivers and lakes in Fujian province and Taiwan into an ornamental globe in Quanzhou, of Fujian, on Sunday to celebrate National Maritime Day, which always falls on July 11. [China Daily]

Guangzhou - Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou called on Sunday for closer ties across the Taiwan Straits following the signing of a historic trade pact by the two sides last month.

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In a message sent to Hu Jintao, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, Ma said this was an opportunity for the two sides to end decades of mistrust and search for common ground.

The appeal, condensed into 16 Chinese characters, will be given to Hu on Monday by Wu Poh-hsiung, honorary chairman of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT), when he meets Hu in Beijing.

Translated into English, the 16 characters read: "Looking into realities, overcoming differences and seeking common ground, accumulating mutual trust and further creating win-win situations."

This will be the third meeting between top leaders of the CPC and the KMT since 2008, when Ma took the reins of power.

Wu has previously said that it is both natural and necessary for senior leaders of both parties to meet once a year.

Negotiators from the mainland and Taiwan signed the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) in the southwestern mainland city of Chongqing in late June.

"There is a lot to do after the signing of the ECFA," Ma said during a trip to the south Taiwan. "I hope the two sides can work together for the future according to the 16-word principle."

Doing so, he added, will lead to "win-win situations".

The ECFA, which will end tariffs on hundreds of products traded across the Straits, is expected to boost bilateral trade, which already totals $110 billion a year, with some $80 billion in goods flowing to the mainland and $30 billion to Taiwan.

Li Jiaquan, a senior researcher at the Institute of Taiwan Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Ma's words generally demonstrate his goodwill toward the mainland.

"It seems that Ma is satisfied with the ECFA and also encouraged by it," he said.

"His political stance has hardly changed since 2008, but his words show there is a greater willingness to building mutual trust and deeper cooperation, which will lay the foundation for political talks in the future."

Taiwan's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has strongly criticized the accord, finding fault with the deal for making the economy in Taiwan economy more dependent on the mainland and strengthening Beijing's control over the island.

However, the ECFA was widely hailed at the sixth Cross-Straits Economic, Trade and Culture Forum, which ended on Sunday in Guangzhou.

While addressing the opening ceremony of the forum, Wang Yi, director of the Taiwan Work Office of the CPC Central Committee, said the ECFA signaled that cross-Straits economic ties had entered a new, mutually beneficial stage.

The forum ended with 22 suggestions for boosting cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation in the areas of trade, the economy, culture and education.

In response to the suggestions, authorities on both sides further recommended pursuing closer cooperation in sectors such as new energy, energy conservation and environmental protection.