KMT leader to visit mainland next week
Updated: 2014-02-15 00:57
By ZHAO SHENGNAN (China Daily)
Kuomintang Honorary Chairman Lien Chan will visit the Chinese mainland next week, the latest in a slew of high-level exchanges that observers said would take the warming cross-Straits ties to a new level.
Lien, also chairman of a foundation on cross-Straits peaceful development, will visit Beijing at the invitation of the mainland side from Feb 17-20, said Fan Liqing, spokeswoman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, on Friday.
"We welcome and will encourage people on the two sides to boost exchanges, enhance communication, increase mutual understanding and kinship, and make joint efforts to push forward the development of cross-Straits ties," Fan said.
According to Taiwan media, Lien is expected to meet Xi Jinping, general seretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, and attend a symposium in Beijing before going to Shenyang, Liaoning province, to sweep his grandmother's tomb.
Members of the delegation include people from various civilian sectors who will voice ideas and suggestions on future cross-Straits exchanges, Lien's office said in a statement on Friday.
Peace is in the best interests of Taiwan and the mainland, and there are no barriers that can't be resolved between the two sides, it said.
The announcement of Lien's visit comes as Wang Yu-chi, Taiwan's mainland affairs chief, concluded his landmark trip to the mainland.
Wang met his mainland counterpart Zhang Zhijun on Tuesday — the first formal meeting between the two sides' chiefs of cross-Straits affairs since 1949.
At that meeting in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, the two agreed to open a regular communication channel between their departments, and Zhang accepted Wang's invitation to visit Taiwan.
On Thursday, Wang met in Shanghai with a pair of mainland experts on Taiwan affairs and listened to their opinions on the cross-Straits situation as well as proposals to improve ties.
In the evening, he chatted over tea with Zhang at a hotel in Shanghai. The pair said they were happy with the outcome of their Nanjing meeting and expected to see each other again soon.
Ni Yongjie, deputy director of the Shanghai Institute of Taiwan Studies and head of Cross-Taiwan Straits Studies magazine, said mainland leaders and Lien are likely to take the improving ties as an opportunity to map out a blueprint for future cross-Straits relations.
"Complementing the regular communication between the two departments in charge of cross-Straits affairs, exchanges between political parties can boost mutual trust across the Taiwan Straits and find new room for cooperation," said Ni.
Unlike Wang, who focused on specific issues, Lien, who has made great contributions to the development of cross-Straits ties, should feel free to offer ideas about the future of ties, he added.
When Lien held the position of KMT chairman, he took what he called a "journey of peace" to the mainland and met Hu Jintao, then-general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, in April 2005. It was the first time in 56 years that leaders of the two parties had met.
Last February, Xi met Lien, marking his first meeting with a Taiwan delegation since becoming the CPC Central Committee's general secretary in November 2012.
In another development, the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation are expected to hold their 10th round of talks at the end of this month in Taipei, Taiwan's Central News Agency reported.
Chen Deming, president of ARATS, will visit Taiwan, and the two bodies will sign deals on earthquake monitoring and meteorological cooperation, it said.
Xinhua and AFP contributed to this story.