CHINA> Taiwan, HK, Macao
Mainland works to improve cross-straits ties: top negotiator
Updated: 2009-03-05 23:59

BEIJING -- The Chinese mainland will work to further improve the "three direct links" and cross-Straits economic relations in 2009, said the mainland's top negotiator of Taiwan affairs on Thursday.

Improving direct mail, transport and trade links between the two sides and the normalization of mainland-Taiwan economic ties would be the focus of the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), said the organization's president Chen Yunlin.

Related readings:
 Closer financial cooperation between Mainland and Taiwan
 Wen calls for mainland-Taiwan co-op, end of hostility
 Wen calls for cross-Straits co-op, end of hostility
 'Cross-Straits economic zone' proposed

Chen, a standing committee member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), made the remarks on the sidelines of the annual session of the country's top political advisory body.

Chen said the ARATS and the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) will hold negotiations this year on issues including regular flights between the mainland and Taiwan, financial cooperation, joint crackdown on crimes and mutual investment.

He said the two bodies aim to sign a series of agreements during a meeting in the first half of the year.

On December 15, 2008, mainland and Taiwan started historic direct flights, postal and shipping services, ending a 59-year ban on such links.

Founded in 1991 and 1990 respectively, the ARATS and the SEF are authorized by the mainland and Taiwan to handle cross-Straits exchanges.

"Last year important progress was made in our Taiwan-related work. Positive changes occurred in the situation in Taiwan, and major breakthroughs were made in cross-Straits relations," Premier Wen Jiabao said while delivering a government work report Thursday at the annual session of the National People's Congress, or the parliament.

Cross-Straits relations have embarked on the track of peaceful development, Wen said.