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June 24, 2017

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Mainland should respect Taiwan's decisions: Chu

New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) yesterday met Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) and said that the two sides of the strait should try to "seek common ground while respecting differences," calling on the mainland Chinese authorities to respect the decisions of the Taiwanese people.

 Cross-strait ties have moved forward rapidly in recent years, Chu said, adding that both sides of the strait should take a step forward by putting themselves in each other's shoes and move from "seeking common ground while preserving differences" to "seeking common ground while respecting differences."

 In response, Zhang said that the two sides of the strait should endeavor to create more conditions for cross-strait exchanges and work on resolving differences.

 Chu in turn said that resolving differences should begin with respecting differences, after which Zhang said that the two sides should seek common ground, respect one another and then work at resolving differences.

 The TAO minister added, however, that in the process of doing that, cross-strait exchanges should not be affected.

 In 2008, when then-Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) visited Taiwan for the first time, there were even more diverse reactions, Chu said, describing diversity, democracy, mutual respect and understanding as Taiwan's endearing qualities.

 Chu said that he has always encouraged his colleagues at the New Taipei City Government to be both ambitious and sympathetic, to have both an ability to execute and an ability to coordinate.

 Zhang said that he was very happy to visit New Taipei City and that one has to place oneself in Taiwan's society in order to understand it, as opposed to relying on the media and books.

A Long Road to a Short Flight

 The minister said, however, that it has been a difficult step to take.

 Although the flight took less than two hours, it took 65 years for this to happen, Zhang said.

 Even after more than six decades during which the two sides of the strait have been separately governed, the challenges of today are no less than what they were in the past, Zhang said, adding, however, that some problems have been solved.

 The minister said that there will inevitably be more challenges down the road and that in order to solve these problems, there should be increased exchanges between the two sides of the strait.

 Being mayor of New Taipei, a city with a population of 4 million, is undoubtedly not an easy job, Zhang said, adding that he understands the challenges and difficulties involved, because he was head of Shandong province's Zibo city (淄博) in the 1990s, a city that also has a population of more than 4 million.

 Zhang stressed the importance of cross-strait exchanges, saying that so far visits from mainland China to Taiwan have exceeded 10 million, whereas a lot of people in Taiwan have yet to visit mainland China.

 After speaking to the press, Chu and Zhang had a 30-minute meeting behind closed doors. Afterward, Zhang told reporters that he and Chu reached a consensus on attaching greater importance to small- and medium-sized enterprises in cross-strait economic cooperation.

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