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China's top cross-strait negotiator comes to Taiwan for cultural tour

TAIPEI -- China's top negotiator with Taiwan arrived in Taiwan yesterday for a 10-day visit at the head of a 60-member cultural exchange delegation.

Chen Yunlin, president of the Beijing based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), said upon his arrival at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport that he felt good to be in Taiwan for a tour.

He did not, however, answer questions about Japan's plan to nationalize the disputed Tiaoyutai Islands, which are currently controlled by Japan and also claimed by Taiwan and China.

Chen and the delegation will hope to draw on Taiwan's experience in running cultural and creative businesses, according to the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), the Taiwanese counterpart of the ARATS.

Chen and SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung will jointly host a conference on Sept. 11 covering the promotion of cross-strait exchanges in cultural and creative fields, the SEF said.

Chen and his delegation will then tour island, from greater Taipei area and Taoyuan County in northern Taiwan and Hualien County in the east, to Taichung City and Nantou County in central Taiwan and Kaohsiung City and Kenting National Park in the south.

Chen and his delegation will also travel to the Taiwan-held outlying islands of Penghu and Kinmen. They are scheduled to return home from Kinmen on Sept. 19, according to the SEF.

It may be Chen's last visit to Taiwan in his capacity as ARATS president, as he is likely to be reassigned when the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China convenes this fall.

The ARATS and SEF are semi-official organizations established to handle cross-strait affairs in the absence of formal relations.

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