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May 29, 2017

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TAO official to visit Taiwan for four days

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday confirmed in a press conference the four-day visit to Taiwan of China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍).

The trip will mark Zhang's first visit to Taiwan since he assumed his post in 2013. The trip has been set for June 23, and Zhang will visit New Taipei City, Taichung City and Kaohsiung City. Meetings with mayors from the three cities have also been scheduled, with a detour to Changhua County said to have been planned as well so Zhang can attend a religious event. Zhang will not be visiting Taipei during his visit.

MAC has stated that they hope Zhang's trip will go safely and smoothly, while Zhang's staff has reportedly said that the trip will be conducted in the spirit of equality and dignity. In the spirit of equality, the duration of Zhang's visit will be as long as MAC Minister Wang Yu-chi's (王郁琦) trip to mainland China in February.

Wang was seen entering the Legislative Yuan yesterday to brief Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) on the schedule and related activities of Zhang's trip. Reportedly, Zhang has stated that he wishes to further understand the general consensus of the Taiwanese people so as to decrease the chances of misunderstandings with mainland China.

Local media outlets have questioned the appropriateness of the timing of Zhang's visit in light of the recent rise in anti-China sentiment as a result of incidents such as TAO spokeswoman Fan Liqing's (范麗青) controversial statement. The spokeswoman was recorded to have said "All issues related to the wholeness of China's sovereignty and land should be decided by all Chinese people, those in Taiwan included," which displeased a large portion of the Taiwanese public.

Former TAO Deputy Director Meets with Pro-Independence Think Tank

In related news, former TAO Deputy Director Sun Yafu (孫亞夫) yesterday met with members of the Taiwan Brain Trust (新台灣國策智庫), the Taiwanese think tank with pro-independence leanings founded by independence advocate Koo Kuan-min (辜寬敏).

Sun met with Koo and other think tank executives such as chairman Wu Jong-yi (吳榮義). The meeting was reported to be very civil, with both sides exchanging thoughts and discussions with little to no dispute.

In an interview after the meeting, Sun stated that the recent Sunflower Movement was brought up during many discussions. The movement has interested mainland China and has since been a topic of analysis on how and why movements like it occur.

Sun also presented a three-point view toward cross-strait relations: insist on peaceful development of cross-strait relations, continue implementation of successful measures to promote cross-strait exchanges and better understand the overall consensus of the Taiwanese people.

When questioned by media on his take on Fan's recent statement, Sun was quoted to have replied "This is our view and not a question of whether we agree or disagree."

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