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September 22, 2017

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KMT's Lien to meet China's President Hu for fourth time

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Honorary Chairman Lien Chan of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) is scheduled to visit Beijing tomorrow at the invitation of Chinese President Hu Jintao.

This will be the fourth trip of Lien, a former vice president, to China in four years.

He will hold the fourth meeting with Hu since their historic encounter on April 29, 2005 in their respective capacity as party leaders.

Lien and members on his delegation will attend a dinner hosted by Jia Qinglin, chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, after arrival.

He and Hu are scheduled to hold a meeting on Tuesday and jointly take part in a ceremony marking the unveiling of a bronze sculpture by Taiwanese artist Yang Ying-feng (aka Yuyu Yang) beside the National Stadium, commonly known as the "Bird Nest," a major venue for the Beijing Olympic Games.

The sculpture was given to Hu by Lien during a 2006 visit to China. Hu proposed to enlarge the art work for public display to signify the peace and friendship between Taiwan and China. The Chinese head of state will also host a banquet in Lien's honor later the same day.

Lien is also expected to meet Chen Yunlin, director of China's Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council. sHe will visit several other Chinese cities, including Chongqing and Wuhan, before returning to Taipei on May 6.

Members on the delegation led by Lien include Cabinet Minister-designate Tsai Hsun-hsiung in the incoming KMT government, former Vice Premier Hsu Li-teh, KMT Vice Chairman Lin Feng-cheng.

The business and industry leaders on the entourage include Jeffrey L.S. Koo, chairman of the Chinatrust Group; Terry Guo, chairman of the Hon Hai Group; and Yin Yen-liang, chairman of the Ruentex Group.

Luo Chih-chiang, a spokesman for President-elect Ma Ying-jeou, said Ma and Lien have had smooth communications and share the same views on cross-Taiwan Strait matters.

Meanwhile, Lien's aides said that Lien has built foundations for closer cross-strait contact through his recent visits to China.

These can be used as a supplementary platform by Taiwan's new administration in communicating with China in addition to the channel between the two semiofficial intermediary bodies — the Taipei-based Straits Exchange Foundation and Beijing's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait.

The imminent Lien-Hu meeting marks another step toward forging closer cross-strait ties.

In what widely seen as a breakthrough that could thaw icy relations between Taipei and Beijing, Hu and Vice President-elect Vincent Siew held a meeting at a regional economic forum in China's southern Hainan Province just earlier this month,.

Taiwan President-elect Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT favors better business ties with the mainland, including more direct flights, more Chinese tourists and normalized trade ties.

Separately, KMT Vice Chairman Chiang Pin-kun continued his visit to Taiwanese businessmen in China on a trip started Thursday.

Chiang has been appointed by President-elect Ma to head the SEF to handle all negotiations with China.

He plays the key role of realizing Ma's election campaign promises to take a further step to launch the direct weekend charter flights between the two sides and open doors to the general Chinese tourists to Taiwan in July.

The next phase is to start regularly scheduled direct flight and shipping services, according to Ma's plan.

Chen Yunlin is seen to take over the chairmanship of Beijing's ARATS in late May to become Chiang's counterpart for talks on issues affecting both sides, including an eventual peace treaty sought by Ma.

As China's top negotiator with Taiwan, Chen is expected to visit the island in June to wrap up negotiations for the closer cross-strait interchanges.

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