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Commentary: Xi takes cross-Strait ties new level

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 15:39, February 22, 2014

BEIJING, Feb. 22 -- Remarks on mainland-Taiwan relations by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, could be raising cross-Strait ties to a new high.

In a meeting with visiting Kuomintang Honorary Chairman Lien Chan in Beijing on Tuesday, Xi proposed cross-Strait consultations on political differences on an equal basis under the One-China Principle.

In the first speech that Xi has addressed to the people of Taiwan as chief of the CPC, he made it clear that the mainland respects the social system and lifestyle that Taiwan compatriots have chosen. He understands that Taiwan compatriots have their own mentality and is willing to share the mainland's development opportunities with those across the water.

Xi worked for more than 15 years in Fujian Province, the mainland region with closest geographic and cultural ties to Taiwan. Xi's insights are based on research and personal observation of cross-Strait issues, and could be the foundation for the evolution of the relationship.

When he said that peaceful progress is a 'correct choice,' Xi expressed mainland determination to strengthen cross-Strait relations. While calling for adhering to the 1992 Consensus, opposing 'Taiwan independence' and fostering the common understanding of One China, Xi stressed a common political basis for progress, or the 'anchor of cross-Strait relations.'

The mainland's good will and sincerity towards Taiwan's residents was evident in Xi's speech; his desire to grapple with the thorny issues was clear.

History and practicality rule out solving all the problems in cross-Strait relations immediately, Xi said. However, both sides of the Strait are of one family and one blood, sharing culture and aspirations.

A few days prior to Xi's speech, Zhang Zhijun and Wang Yu-chi, chiefs of cross-Strait affairs from the mainland and Taiwan, held a historic meeting in Nanjing, the first formal contact between the two sides' cross-Strait affairs authorities and chief officials since 1949.

During the meeting, the two officials agreed to set up regular communication between their departments, a result of growing trust based on the 1992 Consensus. Over the past five years, the two sides have improved their relations to an unprecedented degree.

Cross-Strait trade last year was close to 200 billion U.S. dollars, a jump of almost 17 percent, and the number of people travelling across the Strait hit a record high of more than 8 million.

While the meeting between Zhang and Wang will broaden the spectrum of exchanges, Xi's remarks underlined the common ground and trust between the two sides. They will take relations to a more solid and more intimate engagement. Xi said the Chinese dream is closely linked to the future of Taiwan, and should be shared by both sides. 'No power can separate us,' Xi said.

Chang Wu-ueh, professor with the graduate institute of China studies at Taiwan's Tamkang University, believes the speech reveals Xi's 'foresight and reflection' on cross-Strait concerns.

'With mutual understanding being promoted and joint efforts for a common goal, compatriots on both sides will make things possible,' Chang said.

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