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VP-elect brings up 4 requests in historic talks with Chinese leader

ROC Central News Agency

2008-04-12 23:42:47

    Boao, China, April 12 (CNA) Taiwan's Vice President-elect Vincent Siew brought up four requests in his historic talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao Saturday, with improving economic relations as main focus, according to Siew's spokesman.

    Su Chi, a top China policy planner in Taiwan's former Kuomintang (KMT) government who is accompanying Siew on his current visit to China, told reporters that Siew had called for normalization of cross-Taiwan Strait trade exchanges and resumption of bilateral dialogue mechanism in his talks with the top Chinese leader.

    Siew also requested that China allow its citizens to make sightseeing trips to Taiwan as early as possible and open direct cross-strait charter flights on weekends as a prelude to the establishment of direct air links, Su said.

    The historic Siew-Hu meeting took place on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) which opened Saturday with regional economic cooperation as its top theme.

    The meeting was the highest-level cross-strait political contact since the Republic of China government moved its seat to Taiwan in 1949. Never before has an ROC president-elect or vice president-elect set foot on mainland China soil.

    According to Su, the 20-minute Siew-Hu meeting focused on improving economic relations, a key plank in the platform that boosted incoming Vice President Vincent Siew and President-elect Ma Ying-jeou to victory in the March 22 presidential poll. "The 20-minute talks started with Hu making brief welcoming remarks, which were followed by Siew's presentation in detail and then Hu's response, " explained Su, who is now a professor and widely tipped to be the new KMT government's top national security adviser.

    The first seven minutes of the Siew-Hu meeting was open to the media but the rest of talks proceeded behind closed doors.

    According to China's official Xinhua news agency, Hu met with Siew in his capacity as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China. He was accompanied by Chinese officials in charge of Taiwan affairs during the meeting.

    In contrast, Siew, who will take office May 20, is visiting China in his capacity as chairman of the private Taipei-based Cross-Straits Common Market Foundation (CSCMF) . The 12-member CSCMF delegation headed by Siew is composed of academics and business executives.

    The Siew-Hu meeting is expected to mark a watershed for cross-strait relations that have been stalled since 1999 when then-President Lee Teng-hui declared cross-strait relations as a special state-to-state relationship. The Ma-Siew ticket campaigned on a platform of better economy and closer cross-strait ties.

    After exchanging pleasantries with the Siew-headed CSCMF delegation, Hu said improving relations between the two sides requires efforts from both parties. "On this occasion, I'm happy to exchange opinions on the cross-strait economic cooperation with Siew," Hu said, adding that he looks forward to seeing the two sides forge consensus amid changes in regional and global situations.

    Hu further said the enthusiastic participation of delegates from around the world to the Boao forum reflects a strong desire of Asian countries and areas to strengthen exchanges and cooperation and create mutual benefits. "This common aspiration has provided an important inspiration for our two sides in considering how to boost bilateral economic exchanges," Hu said.

    For his part, Siew said reality has proved that cross-strait economic development is the common wish of people on both sides of the strait.

    He expressed hopes that Taiwan and China would set aside their disputes with pragmatism and work together to create a bright future that will see a win-win scenario. "I hope our two sides will face reality, set sights on the future, put aside disputes and pursue a win-win scenario for all parties concerned," Siew said.

    Noting that it's not easy for him to attend the Boao forum this time around, Siew said he keenly hopes the two sides can from now on adopt a pragmatic and open-minded attitude in dealing with bilateral affairs to turn a new page for cross-strait relations that are based on "mutual trust, mutual understanding, mutual help and mutual benefits."

    Responding to Siew's proposals, Hu was quoted by Xinhua news agency as having promised to continue promoting bilateral negotiations on opening of weekend cross-strait charter flights and on issues regarding Chinese tourists to Taiwan.

    At the end of the meeting, Hu also asked Siew to convey his regards to Taiwan's president-elect Ma Ying-jeou, KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung and KMT honorary chairman Lien Chan.

    Hu was further quoted as having stressed that in the face of ever more ferrous global economic competition, the two sides should seized the current hard-won opportunities to create a win-win scenario for both sides.

    The Boao Forum is a non-government, not-profit organization aimed to promote regional economic cooperation. Founded in 2001, it is headquartered in Beijing.

(By Sofia Wu)


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