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Kaohsiung mayor meets TAO minister

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- After meeting Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍), Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) said yesterday that protests and disagreements are a normal occurrence in Taiwan, and that by listening and understanding, cross-strait exchanges will become more stable.

Chen and Zhang had a closed-door meeting that lasted roughly half an hour at the K-Arena in Kaohsiung, while protesters demonstrated outside the venue.

Afterward, separate press conferences were held by Chen and Zhang.

Chen thanked Zhang for helping facilitate inter-city exchanges, expressing further gratitude to the minister for being able to understand that protests are normal and indicative of Taiwan's social diversity.

The path of Taiwan's development has been a difficult one, especially for the Democratic Progressive Party, Chen said.

Under Kuomintang-imposed martial law, dissent was not permitted in Taiwan, the mayor said, adding that Taiwan's democracy did not fall out of the sky.

That the ruling party and the opposition were not able to accept the TAO's recent remarks on the fate of Taiwan on an ideological basis is indicative of Taiwan's democratic diversity, Chen said.

Chen said that she also spoke about cross-strait trade among other subjects with Zhang.

Yesterday marked the second time that Chen and Zhang have met. The two previously met in mainland China during Chen's visit to Tianjin last year in August.

Beijing Respects Taiwanese Values: Zhang

Zhang said that his meeting with Chen was very pleasant.

The path that Taiwan took was a difficult one, Zhang said, adding that between the two sides of the strait, although shared memories exist there have been differences that led to different ways of living, institutions and values.

The people of Taiwan cherish their way of life and their social institutions and mainland China respects their values, the minister said.

During the past 65 years, there have been challenges and difficulties on both sides of the strait with regard to their respective developments, Zhang said, expressing the belief that a majority of people in Taiwan are supportive of peaceful cross-strait developments.

In order to get more people to share in the benefits of these developments, authorities have to listen to more opinions, including those at the grassroots level in Southern Taiwan, in order to find more effective means of solving problems, Zhang said.

Zhang said that he hopes to see more cross-strait exchanges regardless of partisanship or religion for the benefit of a better future.

The minister added that he spoke about increasing cross-strait flights with the mayor.

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Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊), right, shakes hands and poses for a photograph with China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) at the Grand Hi-Lai Hotel (漢來大飯店) in Kaohsiung City, yesterday. (CNA)



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