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June 24, 2017

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MAC, TAO chiefs meet in Nanjing

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) arrived in Nanjing yesterday and met with his mainland Chinese counterpart, Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Director Zhang Zhijun (張志軍).

Wang and Zhang referred to each other by their formal titles, setting a milestone in the history of cross-strait relations since the mid-20th century.

Given that both the R.O.C. and the PRC exercise a policy of not recognizing each other as a legitimate entity, semi-official organizations such as Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), which reports to the MAC, and mainland China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), which reports to the TAO, were created as windows for cross-strait exchange.

Prior to yesterday's meeting, Wang and Zhang met briefly last year at an APEC meeting in Bali in a "non-official" context.

Before departing for Nanjing, Wang told reporters that the MAC will not sign any agreements or memoranda of understanding with the TAO during his four-day visit.

In his opening statement in Nanjing, the minister said that cross-strait relations have opened a new chapter, with the heads of the MAC and the TAO being able to meet in a formal context to discuss issues that both the people of mainland China and Taiwan are concerned about.

That both MAC and TAO representatives are able to sit down and face each other pragmatically is a precious development virtually unimaginable in the past, Wang said.

The minister expressed the wish that both sides of the strait can continue to pursue an expansion of relations under the 1992 consensus.

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