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Cross-strait civic group talks take priority over political talks: Tsai

TAIPEI--Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen said Saturday that exchanges between civic groups from across the Taiwan Strait should begin before any dialogue is held on political issues.

With interactions between Taiwan and China increasing, communications between civic groups on the two sides are as important as economic and trade exchanges because they are a critical part of the process of democratic development, she said.

But such bilateral dialogue has yet to be seen, Tsai said before attending a seminar held by the Thinking Taiwan Foundation.

Hung Tsai-lung, director of the DPP's Department of China Affairs, said that the best way for the two sides to have a deeper understanding is establishing a “friendship” instead of a “family bond.”

He explained that friendship focuses on equality and mutual benefit between the two sides as well as sharing the same values and pursuing the same goals while family indicates a relationship that is pre-determined and does not meet today's democratic ethos.

As for China's new personnel appointments, Hung said Chen Deming, the new head of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, is more of a specialist than his predecessor Chen Yunlin because of his previous experience as commerce minister.

The appointment indicated that China plans to expand cultural exchanges and strengthen follow-up talks on the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement with Taiwan, he added.

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