Mr Lien, I have a question for you
Wang Zhuoqiong and Qin Chuan
Taiwan opposition leader Lien Chan did not have the chance to study at Peking University he was only 10 years old in 1946 when he left Xi'an, his birthplace, for the island.
However, the alma mater of his mother Zhao Lan-kun is Yenching University, now known as Peking University.
Tomorrow, the chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT) will have a chance to address some of the best and the brightest young minds in the nation when he speaks at the university and takes questions.
He can expect a rapt audience, a standing ovation and some tough questions. The students at the university are not known to shy away - and he will have an opportunity to explain to them, and the world, what he and his party are doing, and will do, to improve cross-Straits ties.
Indeed, he might feel a little like Taiwan pop star Jay Chou - the university says there is so much demand for entry tickets that there will be a ballot for the 600 seats in the auditorium, of which 200 have been reserved for Taiwan delegates and academic staff. There are roughly 20,000 students in the university.
Kuang Guoxin, with the Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan Affairs Office of Peking University told China Daily that the visit would include a speech, a question-and-answer session and a brief tour of the campus in the morning all of which will be broadcast live on China Central Television.
Lien's visit has drawn more attention on the campus than any similar event at the university, said Wang Hui, a third-year Chinese- language major.
China Daily interviewed a cross-section of university students in Beijing to gauge their feelings; the issues that concern them most; and what questions they would raise if they had a chance.
What is uppermost in the students' minds is the Taiwan question.
They are also keen to see improved cross-Straits relations in all areas - and how to achieve them.
Kuang noted the questions did not need the approval of the university; and added that the delegation from the island had set no pre-conditions on Lien's exchanges with the students.
Peace and co-operation across the Straits is what Jing Wei, a third-year student from Taiwan and a major in the School of Government in Peking University, is concerned about.
His question to Lien: "What measures will you adopt to push for co-operation across the Straits as the mainland has implemented many policies to improve cross-Straits relations?"
Tang Si, from Fuzhou of Fujian Province, a post-graduate student at the School of International Studies recently elected as President of Taiwan Research Association, a student body, displayed her grasp of politics on the island.
Her question: "Did you talk or discuss with Chen Shui-bian (Taiwan leader) about your trip; and, if so, what did he say about it?"
Wang Jin, a classmate of Tang and from Qingdao of East China's Shandong Province, wants Lien to explain the popular mood in Taiwan.
"I want to ask him 'Do you sense increasing resentment towards intensified independence moves by the ruling party? Do you sense more and more Taiwanese want closer cross-Straits ties and this historic visit reflects that popular feeling?"
Wang, who believes that if the KMT were the ruling party in Taiwan, it would have a positive impact on reunification, said closer cross-Straits ties were inevitable whichever party was in power.
Her question: "Will you consider the trip as an attempt at renewed co-operation between KMT and the Communist Party of China? What kind of political pressure will you face after going back to Taiwan? And how will you deal with it?"
Fu Lina, a 23 postgraduate law student at Renmin University of China, has clearly been paying close attention to gestures from some leading Taiwan politicians.
Her question: "As your visit will soon be followed by that of People First Party leader James Soong, who is scheduled to address Tsinghua University students during his eight-day trip, have you co-ordinated your visits? Do the two visits signify greater momentum towards reunification?"
Some law students are interested in the impact of the enactment of the Anti-Secession Law last month.
Wang Kai, 26, from Hanzhong of Northwest China's Shannxi Province, and a Doctor of Law also in Renmin University is interested in his specialization.
His question: "I am eager to know whether Taiwanese people are reassured by the repeated statements by the central government leaders that the law was not aimed against them and not aggressive in nature but rather to promote peaceful reunification."
Improved cross-Straits ties is not the only item on the students' agenda.
Peng Yang, a postgraduate student of cultural-relic-protection studies, is interested in whether the island will increase culture exchanges with the mainland.
His question: "Will Taiwan have more national treasures, like those from the Palace Museum (Forbidden City) displayed on a larger scale on the mainland to appreciate our shared heritage?"
Peng, from Xiangtan of Central China's Hunan Province, is visiting Taiwan next week on a cultural exchange trip organized by his university and would like his journey more pleasant.
His question: "What will you do to increase regular direct flights so that travelling to Taiwan is more convenient?"
In a similar vein, some believe increased people-to-people exchanges could herald peace and development on both sides of the Straits, as well as co-operation in high technology.
Sha Yunfei, a 25-year-old postgraduate student in civil engineering at Tsinghua University who visited Taiwan on an academic exchange programme last year, said: "When I talked to people in Taiwan, I felt we are same people. The difference is only caused by misunderstandings between us."
His question: "I'd like to know what you will do to strengthen co-operation in research on advanced technology."
And things could get a little personal.
Wang Zhiqiang, 23, a final-year maths undergraduate at Peking University, and from Dalian in Liaoning Province, would like to ask Lien if he missed following in his mother's footsteps at her university.
His question: "Do you ever regret not studying in the top university on the mainland?"
(China Daily 04/28/2005 page5)
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