KMT officials begin three-day visit to mainland

Updated: 2013-06-13 01:29

By AN BAIJIE (China Daily)

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A delegation led by Honorary Kuomintang Chairman Wu Po-hsiung arrived in Beijing on Wednesday for a three-day visit, a development that mainland authorities called "an important activity" among the high-level exchanges between the mainland and Taiwan.

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, is scheduled to meet with the delegation on Thursday afternoon.

It is the sixth time that Wu has been to Beijing with visiting delegations, but the first time since Xi became the Party chief in November.

"I hope that we can maintain the peaceful cross-Straits relationship and move forward steadily, rather than move backward," Wu said at the airport in Taoyuan on Wednesday morning before boarding his plane.

"I believe that mainland authorities will also express similar views," Wu added.

Ma Ying-jeou, Taiwan's leader and KMT chairman, met with some of the delegation members on Monday, Wu said.

Ma "has been instructing me in a serious and conscientious manner on cross-Straits issues in the past days," he said, adding that he will submit Ma's opinions to mainland authorities.

Zhang Zhijun, minister of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, provided a welcoming dinner for the visiting delegation on Wednesday evening.

The delegation is scheduled to meet with Guo Jinlong, Party secretary of Beijing, on Thursday morning, and with Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, on Thursday evening, the China Review News reported.

Fan Liqing, spokeswoman for the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, said at a news conference on Sunday that Xi will exchange views with Wu on issues such as relations between the CPC and KMT as well as mainland-Taiwan ties.

The meeting will be "an important activity" in the high-level exchanges between the two parties under new circumstances, she said.

KMT authorities praised the upcoming meeting as a "new beginning", which both sides view as important, according to a news release on the KMT official website on Sunday.

The meeting is expected to be a "constructive dialogue" that reflects the two parties' emphasis on the KMT-CPC platform and their commitment to maintaining and advancing the peaceful development of cross-Straits ties, the KMT news release said.

No further detailed information about the meeting had been released through official channels as of Wednesday evening.

The topics of the meeting include establishing agencies in each other's regions; widening trade and economic exchanges; and enhancing education communication, the Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV quoted an anonymous source as saying.

Ma expressed his wish on Tuesday to set up Taiwan's offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to provide better services to Taiwan investors and make it more convenient for people to travel across the Straits, Xinhua News Agency reported.

There are 616 flights across the Straits every week and more than 50 mainland cities have flights to Taiwan, Ma said at a seminar on Tuesday.

Since Taiwan allowed individual tourists from mainland cities in June 2011, the number of such mainland residents traveling to Taiwan stood at 385,800 by the end of May, the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office said on Sunday.

Ni Yongjie, deputy director of the Shanghai Institute of Taiwan Studies, said the meeting between Xi and Wu is in line with the dialogue mechanism that the two sides have used since 2005.

"The meeting will be looking to the past, summing up experiences, and planning for the future," he said.

Li Yihu, head of Peking University's Taiwan Institute, said that three KMT vice-chairmen are in the visiting delegation, and the high ranking of the visiting officials reflects the importance of the meeting.

"The delegation visited Beijing on Wednesday, the Duanwu Festival," or Dragon Boat Festival, Li said. "The timing contains such meaning as ‘We are from the same family' ."