China / HK Macao Taiwan

Mainland open to cross-Straits leaders meeting

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-02-17 17:25

BEIJING - The Chinese mainland remains positive and open about a possible meeting between leaders from both sides of the Taiwan Strait, a mainland spokeswoman said on Monday.

Compatriots from both sides hope to see such a meeting at an early date to boost peaceful development of cross-Straits ties and benefit the Chinese nation and people from both sides, said Fan Liqing of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office (SCTAO) at a press conference.

Fan was responding to a question about the timing of a possible meeting between Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, and Ma Ying-jeou, chairman of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang.

The reporter asked if the mainland did not want the two leaders to meet at the informal economic leaders' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) this year in Beijing, what kind of occasion would be appropriate for the meeting.

Fan said that the APEC leaders' meeting has its own rules and she suggested issues should be handled in accordance with relevant memorandum of understanding.

On February 11, the chief officials on cross-Straits affairs from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan met formally for the first time since 1949.

A meeting between cross-Straits leaders was not on the agenda between Zhang Zhijun, SCTAO director, and Wang Yu-chi, Taiwan's mainland affairs leader, but they expressed their views informally, according to Fan.

She hailed last week's meeting between Zhang and Wang as "an important step" for promoting comprehensive development of cross-Straits relations.

"There will be a second and third step after this one," the spokeswoman said. "We hope to take every step steadfastly to bring about concrete benefits for people on both sides of the Strait."

Zhang and Wang's meeting focused on properly settling prominent problems in cross-Straits exchanges in a timely manner, Fan said. Sensitive political issues, however, should be resolved through political dialogue and negotiations.

She said last week's events had achieved important results, with the mainland and Taiwan agreeing to regular communication between their cross-Straits affairs departments during the meeting.

They agreed to promote cross-Straits relations on the basis of the "1992 Consensus" and expected the new communication mechanism to improve exchanges, understanding and mutual trust, according to Fan.

The two sides also agreed to push forward follow-up agreements to the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, allow the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and Taiwan counterpart the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) to exchange offices "as early as possible" and promote cultural, education and scientific exchange.

"We hope the two sides can earnestly and actively implement results achieved during the meeting and give full play to the new communication mechanism between their cross-Straits affairs departments," Fan said.

The spokeswoman clarified that the new arrangement will not replace talks between the ARATS and SEF, which focus on detailed affairs, nor will it change the way other departments interact with each other.

Zhang has accepted Wang's invitation to visit Taiwan but the exact date has not been fixed, Fan added.

She called on both sides to "make efforts to expand cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation, enhance benefits for people from both sides and open up new dimensions in peaceful development of cross-Straits ties."

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