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Taiwan affairs chief named

China Daily | Updated: 2013-03-19 06:57

A senior diplomat has been named as the mainland's top official in charge of Taiwan affairs, which analysts said will boost the peaceful development of cross-Straits ties.

Zhang Zhijun, former executive vice-foreign minister, became the minister of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, the office said on its website on Sunday.

His predecessor, Wang Yi, became the new foreign minister on Saturday after his nomination was approved by the National People's Congress.

The central government's policies toward Taiwan will be consistent, and the mainland authorities will remain dedicated to the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations, Zhang said in a message on the office's website.

Zhang started his diplomatic career in 1975 at the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, which conducts party-to-party exchanges and cooperation.

He became vice-minister of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee in 2000 and vice-foreign minister in 2009.

It's not the first time that a senior foreign affairs official has become the minister of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council. Wang Yi assumed the post in 2008 after serving as vice-foreign minister.

The central government has established a mature mechanism under which officials from both the foreign and Taiwan affairs authorities could be exchanged with each other, said Chen Xiancai, a professor at the Taiwan Research Institute of Xiamen University.

"The Taiwan question is China's internal affair, but lots of foreign factors must be taken into consideration, including arms sales from the United States and interference from Japan," he said.

Chen said that the mainland's policies toward Taiwan have nothing to do with the minister's personal character, since the policies are jointly made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council.

Jin Yong, an associate professor of Taiwan research at the Communication University of China, said that the central government will stick to its policy of peaceful development regarding Taiwan.

"Cross-Straits relations saw rapid progress in recent years, with bilateral economic, cultural and tourism contacts being greatly enhanced," he said.

Lien Chan, honorary chairman of the Kuomintang, expressed expectations for deepened cross-Straits economic cooperation while visiting the mainland late last month.

President Xi Jinping, speaking on Sunday in his first public speech since taking office, said that Taiwan compatriots should join forces with mainland people to support, maintain and improve the peaceful development of cross-Straits ties.

Premier Li Keqiang said at a news conference on Sunday that the central government would like to share development opportunities with the Taiwan authorities.

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