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Soong in Beijing for historic meeting
By Xing Zhigang, Cao Desheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-05-10 22:08

Taiwan opposition leader James Soong arrived in Beijing yesterday afternoon for a historic meeting with Hu Jintao, the head of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Hu, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, will hold talks with the chairman of the People First Party (PFP) in the Great Hall of the People tomorrow.

PFP Chairman James Soong from Taiwan delivers a speech at the Capital International Airport after arrival in Beijing today. [newsphoto]
Soong said yesterday he has been looking forward the meeting for the sake of building a bridge of friendship and mutual trust across the Taiwan Straits.

"The direct dialogue between our two parties is of great historic significance," he told the welcoming party at the airport.

"Through face-to-face communication, we hope to accumulate wisdom among all Chinese people on both sides to help break the current stalemate in cross-Straits relations," he said.

Cross-Straits ties have worsened since Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian of the pro-"independence" Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came to power in May 2000.

The DPP administration has been pushing for "Taiwan independence" through rampant secessionist activities, which has heightened tensions to endanger cross-Straits peace and stability.

To help stabilize the tense situation, Hu has invited Taiwanese opposition leaders, including Soong and Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan, to visit the mainland for political talks with the CPC.

His landmark talks with Lien on April 29 have been widely hailed by the public on both sides of the Straits and by the international community.

Soong, along with a 50-member delegation, started his nine-day trip last Tuesday and visited Xi'an, Nanjing, Shanghai, Changsha. He also returned to his birthplace in Xiangtan.

The 63-year-old PFP leader said he highly cherishes and expects the upcoming talks with Hu to help herald a new era in cross-Straits relations.

"We should join our efforts to create a common prosperity for all Chinese people on both sides of the Straits in line with the principles of mutual respect and benefit," he said.

Since its founding in 2000, the PFP has been strongly opposing "Taiwan independence" while upholding the "1992 consensus" which commits both sides of the Straits to adhering to the one-China principle.

The principle states that there is only one China in the world and both Taiwan and the mainland belongs to one and the same China.

This morning, Soong will deliver a speech at Tsinghua University, which is expected to be televised live nationwide.

During the flight from Changsha to Beijing, he disclosed that his address will focus on introducing the development experience of Taiwan so that both sides of the Straits can learn from each other in stimulating economic growth.

In the speech he will also talk about how to build a peaceful and co-operative future for both sides.

Yesterday morning, Soong visited the Yuelu Academy of Classical Learning in Changsha, one of the oldest academies in China.

Meanwhile, students from Beijing-based Tsinghua University have been preparing questions for Soong who is scheduled to deliver a speech and a Q&A session at the prestigious academic institution today.

Tickets for his speech have been snapped up quickly and many will be left disappointed. The auditorium can seat only 500-odd people. There are roughly 34,000 students and teachers at the university.

Following a 60-minute speech, Soong and his delegation are expected to made a short tour of the campus.

Deng Bin, a biology major at the School of Sciences, said: "I appreciate Soong and his party's perseverance in the one-China policy."

He added: "If I were given a chance to raise a question for the chairman, I would ask him whether he would go further to promote the reunification of the country or just stay at maintaining the status quo."

A student, surnamed Fan, from the School of Law, is concerned about the political situation on the island.

"I want to know whether the DPP administration has sincerity in peacefully dealing with the cross-Straits relations," he said Fan.

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