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KMT envoy to embark on mainland visit
By Xiao Xing (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-03-01 01:37

Taiwan's leading opposition party Kuomintang (KMT) plans to send a top party envoy to visit the mainland in a move to help ease cross-Straits tensions.

KMT Chairman Lien Chan told a public gathering on Sunday that Chiang Ping-kun, one of the party's vice-chairmen, is expected to visit the mainland this month.

"Chiang's visit will not only help cross-Straits relations, it will also be a historic moment for the KMT," Lien told Taiwanese reporters.

He reportedly said details of the trip would be unveiled at a later date.

The party sees the trip, the first of its kind in 56 years since the KMT fled to Taiwan at the end of the Chinese civil war, as a first step for future parleys by top party officials.

"This would be an ice-breaking trip," KMT Chief Secretary Lin Feng-cheng told journalists.

"There will be more... plans on the line, and hopefully Chairman Lien would be able to visit the mainland."

During his visit, Chiang will pay homage at the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum in Nanjing and the Mausoleum of the 72 Martyrs in Guangzhou.

The 80th anniversary of the death of Sun, founding father of Republic of China, falls on March 12.

Meanwhile, Tseng Yung-chuan, director of the KMT's central policy committee, announced that another KMT delegation also is scheduled to visit the mainland in the near future to help promote regular charter flights across the Straits.

The KMT is preparing for the visit, which may take place as early as this week, Tseng told the China News Service.

The proposed visit is believed to be a positive response to Beijing's offer to expand cross-Straits charter flights to cover additional holidays.

On Friday, the decision-making Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council proposed talks on launching cross-Straits charter flights for the Qingming Festival and other major traditional Chinese holidays as soon as possible.

The call came in the wake of a historic non-stop cross-Straits charter programme for the 2005 Spring Festival, widely welcomed by business people who enjoyed the service.

The KMT has been actively pushing for the establishment of regular non-stop charter flights between Taiwan and the mainland.

In contrast, Taiwan authorities appeared cool to Beijing's proposal to operate additional cross-Straits chartered passenger flights during selected holidays.

Chiu Tai-san, vice-chairman of the "mainland affairs council" on the island, reportedly said that his council needs first to conduct an overall assessment of the Lunar New Year charter flights.

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