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Cross-strait relations with Taiwan still 'good': China's top negotiator

HUAIAN, China--Interactions between Taiwan and China are in a healthy state despite new problems that are testing the two sides, China's top negotiator for Taiwan said Saturday.

Chen Deming, president of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), said that the two sides will “engage in active consultations” on an upcoming agreement for free trade in merchandise and the exchange of representative offices.

Chen made the comments when meeting with his Taiwanese counterpart Lin Join-sane, chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), on the sidelines of a forum attended by Taiwanese business people in China.

It was the first meeting between the two since Deputy Minister Chang Hsien-yao of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council was sacked on Aug. 16 for allegedly leaking official documents. Chang also lost his job as Lin's deputy at the SEF, the organization responsible for the conduct of Taiwan's relations with the mainland.

There have been suggestions that the circumstances surrounding Chang's removal could make it more difficult for President Ma Ying-jeou's government to pursue his China policies, including efforts to sign new major agreements with mainland and to have an agreement for free trade in services signed in June last year clear the legislature.

Lin said that the two sides are busy with issues that emerged as items for negotiations from the last round of high-level bilateral talks held in February this year.

In addition to the open meeting Saturday morning, Chen and Lin are scheduled to hold a 30-minute meeting behind closed doors later.

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