China / HK Macao Taiwan

Hotline links Taiwan and the mainland

By PENG YINING (China Daily) Updated: 2015-12-31 07:04

Move will help ensure peaceful development of relations, public well-being across Straits

A hotline between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan was officially launched on Wednesday when chiefs of cross-Straits affairs from both sides used it for the first time to speak to each other.

The new link provides an upgraded contact between the two sides by connecting the heads of the two Cabinet-level agencies responsible for cross-Straits ties.

An existing hotline connected the semiofficial organizations that negotiate agreements in the absence of formal ties.

Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, told a regular media briefing that Xi Jinping and Ma Ying-jeou, the top mainland and Taiwan leaders, agreed to set up the hotline during their meeting in Singapore in November. The move is designed to increase exchanges and dialogue, and to enhance political mutual trust.

The Xi-Ma meeting was the first between top leaders of the two sides in 66 years.

During their conversation over the new hotline, Zhang Zhijun, the mainland's Taiwan affairs chief, and Andrew Hsia, his counterpart from Taiwan, confirmed the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations in the past year.

They also approved the effective communication and interaction between the two departments, according to the spokesman.

Ma Xiaoguang said, "We hope the Chinese mainland's Taiwan affairs organ and Taiwan's mainland affairs body can continue to improve the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations" and the well-being of people on both sides.

Ni Yongjie, deputy director of the Shanghai Institute of Taiwan Studies, said, "The hotline will strengthen exchanges and dialogue to increase political mutual trust, reduce the risk of misunderstanding, avoid miscalculations and control divergence."

Ni said the hotline will be used only to deal with emergencies and important issues.

Whether it continues to exist next year, or the frequency of its use, is uncertain due to the political situation in Taiwan, Ni said, referring to the island's leadership election in January.

During the latest election debate, Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, said the 1992 Consensus, which was built on the one-China principle, was "an option, but not the only option".

Commenting on Tsai's remarks, Ma Xiaoguang said the 1992 Consensus is the mutual political foundation for cross-Straits negotiation and peaceful development.

"If the foundation is lost, the communication mechanism between the two sides will be influenced, or even collapse. The ship of peaceful cross-Straits relations will encounter rough waves, or even overturn," he said. The spokesman also said that more mainland students will be allowed to study in Taiwan, which was also one of the achievements of the Xi-Ma meeting in Singapore.

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