Senior official urges "most broad-based" cross-Straits exchanges
GOV.cn Sunday, May 17, 2009

Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, addresses the Straits Forum in Xiamen, southeast China's Fujian Province, May 17, 2009. (Xinhua/Zhang Guojun)

Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, addresses the Straits Forum in Xiamen, southeast China's Fujian Province, May 17, 2009. (Xinhua Photo)

China's top political adviser Jia Qinglin on Sunday called for the "most broad-based" exchanges and cooperation between the mainland and Taiwan for the peaceful development of cross-Straits ties.

"We should promote the cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation to the most broad-based spheres and to the grassroots level, and encourage the involvement of the public to the maximum extent," said Jia, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Jia said that quite a number of Taiwan people had yet to set foot on the mainland and invited them to pay a visit.

"We also welcome the Democratic Progressive Party (a major opposition party on the island) members to visit the mainland," he said.

Jia made the remarks while addressing the Straits Forum which opened in the southeastern coastal city of Xiamen Saturday.

A week-long event co-hosted by four cities in Fujian Province, which faces Taiwan across the sea, the forum has drawn more than 8,000 Taiwan guests and features 18 activities including a centerpiece conference, a trade fair, a cultural week, a tourism forum and a seminar on traditional Chinese medicine. It is designed to promote cross-Straits exchanges on an unofficial platform.

"To promote the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations under the new circumstances, the most important work to do is to promote the mass exchange between compatriots from the two sides and extensive cooperation among different circles from both sides," he said.

The week-long Straits Forum is held at the Exhibition and Convention Center of Xiamen, a coastal city in southeast China's Fujian Province, May 17, 2009.(Xinhua/Zhang Guojun)

The week-long Straits Forum is held at the Exhibition and Convention Center of Xiamen, a coastal city in southeast China's Fujian Province, May 17, 2009.(Xinhua Photo)

Cross-Straits exchanges were ultimately exchanges between people, Jia said. "It is the joint efforts from compatriots on both sides that will ultimately promote the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations."

"The force to propel the development of cross-Straits ties stems from the public, from the grassroots level and from each individual on both sides," he said. "So long as everyone takes his own part, the prospect of cross-Straits relations will be even brighter," he said.

Taiwan guests and scholars alike echoed Jia's views.

"The exchanges at the grassroots level should be further promoted and expanded," said Taichung mayor Jason Hu.

He praised the role of the Straits Forum that features the participation of the general public in Taiwan, many of whom came to the mainland for the first time.

Prof. Liu Guoshen, director of the Taiwan Research Institute at Xiamen University, said "The public on both sides of the Straits has insufficient understanding, or even a misunderstanding and hostility due to their long separation."

"To resolve the problem, the two sides need to eliminate divergences and encourage more exchanges, in addition to the talks between the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and other official talks," Liu said.

"The more exchanges the two sides have, the better understanding," he said.

Addressing the conference, Chu Li-lun, vice chairman of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) Party, stressed the importance of mindset changes in boosting economic development between Taiwan and the mainland.

"It's time that six decades of separation and previous generations' confrontation be ended. Let the current and the future generations choose common development and jointly create a situation of mutual benefits," he said.

With its geographic location, Xiamen used to be the frontline of mainland-Taiwan artillery duels from the 1950s until the 1970s.In recent years it has again become a frontline for closer cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation.

Shi Zhenfei, a 60-year-old peddler in Xiamen, said he was also very much interested in the forum.

"As a Xiamen native, I've heard much about the mainland-Taiwan fighting since I was young," he said. "But no one likes war. Through such kinds of activities we, the two sides, can better understand each other."

"People from the mainland and Taiwan used to be enemies. But now we are brothers," he said.

The week-long Straits Forum is held at the Exhibition and Convention Center of Xiamen, a coastal city in southeast China's Fujian Province, May 17, 2009.(Xinhua/Zhang Guojun)

The week-long Straits Forum is held at the Exhibition and Convention Center of Xiamen, a coastal city in southeast China's Fujian Province, May 17, 2009.(Xinhua Photo)

China's top political advisor meets cross-Straits forum guests
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KMT vice chairman says cross-Straits forum "significant" for future development of mainland, Taiwan
Editor: Xiong Tong
Source: Xinhua