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Cross-strait top negotiators to meet after CNY

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The first official meeting between the heads of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) and his counterpart in China will take place sometime after Chinese New Year, which falls on Jan. 30, 2014.

MAC Minister Wang Yu-chi and Zhang Zhijung, director of the Taiwan Affairs Office under China's State Council, first met in October when they sat in on talks between Taiwan's former Vice President Vincent Siew and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in Bali, Indonesia.

During the meeting, both addressed each other by their formal titles and talked about the establishment of a mechanism for the regular exchange of visits by the two heads in charge of affairs of the other side.

After working for some time, both sides have reached consensus on Wang visiting China first.

Such an arrangement was based on the considerations that it may be less controversial in Taiwan for Zhang to pay a reciprocal visit after Wang's visit to China.

The timing of the meeting may fall sometime after Chinese New Year and before the next round, or the 10th round of regular meetings between the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and its Chinese counterpart Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS).

SEF and ARATS are semi-official bodies set up to handle bilateral affairs in the absence of official ties.

To prevent the Wang-Zhang meeting from being overly politically interpreted, it will not be held in China's capital Beijing. The exact time and itinerary will have to be worked out by both sides.

Also, as Wang could call on Taiwanese doing business or studying in China, the venue could be Jiangsu province or Guangzhou, or cities in coastal mainland China where a lot of Taiwanese businessmen converge.

Top on the agenda of the Wang-Zhang meeting could be the exchange of representative office on each side of the Taiwan Strait, a source said.

But the source added that if Beijing brings up the issue of both sides embarking on political talks, Taiwan would stress that the agenda should be on issues that both sides are willing to discuss.

If mainland officials raise political issues “we'll only discuss with the other side if they are in keeping with people's will and their needs,” the source said.

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