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President advocates for more cross-strait bigwig meetings

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Referring to the recent meeting between former Vice President Lien Chan (連戰) and Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping (習近平), President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday that meetings like these can help both sides of the strait increase mutual trust.

The president made the comments during the Kuomintang's (KMT) weekly Central Standing Committee meeting in which Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) gave a report on his recent trip to mainland China.

The minister pointed out in his report that a task force was set up during the preparatory stages and that a total of 11 meetings were held before he departed for the mainland.

After hearing the report, Ma said that the objectives of Wang's visit have been met, and the results have fulfilled the government's expectations.

The two sides of the strait have been separately governed over the past 65 years, Ma said, pointing out, however, that the government lifted restrictions in 1987 to allow people in Taiwan to visit their relatives in mainland China.

Although Taiwan-mainland China relations began making progress since then, there have been setbacks resulting in substantial cross-strait tension, the president said.

However, when the KMT returned to government six years ago, the administration began making efforts to drastically improve cross-strait relations, Ma added.

Opposition Approval, Int'l Media Coverage

Regarding the minister's visit to mainland China, even the opposition, including Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), expressed approval, the president said, adding that this is a positive indication.

Cross-strait relations can only be successfully pushed forward by having a consensus in Taiwan; otherwise, cross-strait affairs tend to become a focal point of dispute, Ma said.

The minister clearly stated in Nanjing at the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum that it has been 103 years since the national father, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, founded the Republic of China, Ma said, adding that the statement was highly significant.

The president said that he has consistently advocated the concept of “mutual non-recognition of sovereignty and mutual non-denial of jurisdiction,” and that if both sides of the strait can practice the latter half of that concept, cross-strait exchanges will become broader and deeper.

The minister's visit to mainland China also received wide coverage in international media, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and various UK-based newspapers, Ma said.

The New York Times, for example, referred to the meeting between the minister and his mainland Chinese counterpart as a historic milestone, whereas The Economist said that although a lot of people have been calling it a symbolic meeting, “symbolism is a form of substance,” Ma said.

The Independent, the fourth largest newspaper in the UK, said that recent East Asia news has been about tension and confrontation, but the fact that officials from Taiwan and mainland China were able to sit down and talk is reassuring, the president explained.

Peace is a universal value of paramount importance, and the R.O.C. is on the right track by aiming to fulfill its role as peacemaker, Ma said.

Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) is slated to visit Taiwan in the near future, which will lead to further discussion on various issues, the president said, adding that the Wang-Zhang meet was a good starting point.

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