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September 21, 2017

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Current cross-strait policy to stay after power transition: Hu Jintao

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia--Outgoing Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) said in Russia yesterday that Beijing's current policy to promote peace across the Taiwan Strait will continue after he steps down.

China will continue to boost the peaceful development of cross-strait relations to strengthen the foundation of political, economic, cultural and social development on either side, Hu told Taiwan's former Vice President Lien Chan (連戰) in a meeting held on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Vladivostok.

Hu is expected to step down as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China during the party's 18th National Congress set to take place in a few weeks. This is the last time he will attend the annual APEC leaders' meeting.

Lien, who is attending the APEC meeting on behalf of President Ma Ying-jeou for the fifth year and has met Hu on many occasions, said in a news conference that he conveyed Ma's regards to Hu during the meeting with the Chinese leader.

The former vice president said he expressed Ma's appreciation to Hu for the "great contributions" he made to cross-strait relations, which Ma said has "made history" and left an important legacy for ethnic Chinese.

Meanwhile, Lien extended an invitation for Hu to visit Taiwan, saying that "I very much look forward to the opportunity to receive you in Taiwan some day and show you around."

Also during the talks, Lien and Hu reached a consensus to speed up follow-up negotiations under the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, concluding that the negotiations on trade in services should be completed within one year, while those on trade in goods should be done by next year.

Lien also urged Hu to support and assist with Taiwan's efforts to sign free trade and trade cooperation agreements with its trade partners to boost its competitiveness against major rivals such as South Korea and Singapore.

According to Lien, the inclusion of Taiwan in regional economic integration arrangements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership for East Asia, will be favorable to the development of cross-strait relations and help consolidate the economy of the two sides.

On the promotion of a cross-strait peace agreement, Lien proposed that the two sides work toward that goal using a "building-block approach" that begins with "peripheral issues," as a way of building up "political mutual trust."

To that end, academics and think tanks from the two sides of the strait can hold peace forums regularly to facilitate brainstorming, he said.

Meanwhile, in response to a question by a Japanese reporter, Lien said he did not discuss issues related to the Tiaoyutai Islands with Hu.

He reiterated that the Republic of China (Taiwan) has full sovereignty over the island group and does not accept any unilateral claims over the territory by any party.

In light of the territorial dispute, President Ma has recently put forward his East China Sea Peace Initiative in the hope that a peaceful resolution can be found for all concerned parties to jointly develop the resource-rich area, Lien noted.

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