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Taiwan leader promises closer ties with mainland

By AN BAIJIE | China Daily | Updated: 2013-10-11 01:35

Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou has called for the peaceful development of cross-Straits ties and vowed to enhance mutual political trust with the mainland authorities.

The Taiwan Straits has become Asia's most peaceful and thriving channel after years of continuous efforts in that area, Ma said on Thursday.

People on both sides of the Straits are all Chinese, and the cross-Straits relationship is not an "international relationship", Ma said.

He made the remarks during a speech on Thursday morning, as the island was celebrating the 102nd anniversary of the 1911 Revolution, which toppled the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

His speech also came one day before the opening of the first cross-Straits peace forum in Shanghai on Friday, which experts said could be an opportunity to start the two sides' political dialogue after fruitful economic progress.

Cross-Straits ties have made considerable progress under the principle of the 1992 Consensus, agreed upon by the mainland and Taiwan, since the Kuomintang became Taiwan's ruling party again five years ago, Ma said in his speech.

Nineteen agreements have been signed between both sides in the past five years, and exchanges in economic, tourism and judicial sectors have been continually enhanced, he added.

The cross-Straits service trade agreement, signed in June, could bring more job opportunities for Taiwan people, Ma said.

He also mentioned the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, a comprehensive cross-Straits economic pact that was signed in 2010 to reduce tariffs and commercial barriers between the mainland and Taiwan.

Both sides should keep negotiating to enhance mutual political trust, boost exchanges to bring benefits for the people, and work to set up representative offices with each other, Ma said.

However, political dialogue has lagged behind for various reasons, said Chen Xiancai, a professor at the Taiwan Research Institute of Xiamen University.

The forum is a good opportunity to start the cross-Straits political dialogue, which could be launched by academic institutes and foundations, Chen said.

The Shanghai forum is expected to attract more than 120 delegates from civil groups and academic institutions from both sides of the Straits. They will discuss politics, mutual security trust and a framework for peace, according to the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.

President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said in his meeting with Vincent Siew, honorary chairman of the Taiwan-based Cross-Straits Common Market Foundation, on Sunday in Bali that political disputes between the mainland and Taiwan could be gradually and eventually resolved, and problems should not be handed down to later generations.

Xi's meeting with Siew was held ahead of the 21st informal economic leaders' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Yang Yi, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said on Sept 25 during a regular news briefing, "The mainland will support and encourage people-to-people political dialogue between the two sides, which can discuss solutions for issues concerning politics, defense and foreign relations, to create conditions and gather experience for the opening of cross-Strait political negotiations."

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