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Wang-Zhang meet is new milestone in cross-strait ties: president

ROC Central News Agency

2014/02/13 15:39:56

Taipei, Feb. 13 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said Thursday that the meetings this week between Taiwan's and China's respective cross-Taiwan Strait policymakers represent a new milestone in relations between the two sides.

Wang Yu-chi, minister of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, is currently in China on a four-day visit, the first time a Republic of China official in charge of mainland affairs has set foot on the mainland, Ma said.

Wang held talks with his Chinese counterpart, Zhang Zhijun, head of the Taiwan Affairs Office of China's State Council, in Nanjing Tuesday to exchange views on cross-strait ties. The two will meet again for tea in Shanghai later Thursday.

'The meetings are the first of its kind in the 65 years since the two sides of the strait broke apart, and are also an important milestone on the path toward peace and prosperity,' Ma said while receiving an American delegation led by Robert Willard, former commander of the U.S. Pacific Command.

Ma said he has been working to improve relations and reduce tensions with the mainland since he assumed office in May 2008.

These efforts, which have led to many changes such as the launch of direct cross-strait flights, have helped to boost the well-being of the people of Taiwan, he said.

Over 100 flights per day now ply cross-strait routes, and more than 24,000 Chinese students were studying in Taiwan as of the end of 2013, a significant growth from just 823 six years ago, he said.

'Contacts between the youths from both sides will be very helpful to working toward sustainable peace across the Taiwan Strait,' he added.

Until this week, the governments on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait had conducted talks through quasi-official organizations dubbed 'the white gloves,' namely Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation and China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits.

The white gloves were set up in the early 1990s so the two sides could begin talks on issues related to cross-strait exchanges without 'official' contacts.

(By Lee Shu-hua and Y.F. Low)
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