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Mainland, Taiwan to hold first official meet in 65 yrs

(Global Times) February 11, 2014

Chinese mainland and Taiwan officials overseeing cross-Straits policy are slated to meet onTuesday, the highest-level meeting between the two sides since 1949.

Wang Yu-chi, head of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), was set to fly to the mainland on Tuesday and have a two-hour meeting with Zhang Zhijun, chief of the TaiwanAffairs Office (TAO) of the State Council, in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu Province.

The significance is no less than that of the "Wang-Ku Talks" in 1993, which was the firstpublic meeting between figures from non-governmental organizations representing the twosides since 1949, Yang Lixian, a deputy secretary-general of the Beijing-based NationalSociety of Taiwan Studies, told the Global Times.

The meeting indicates a deeper political trust between the mainland and Taiwan and willlay the foundation for political consultations and help institutionalize official exchanges, JinYi, a research fellow with the Institute of Taiwan Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Cross-Straits relations have boomed since Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang took office in2008. Since then, the Taipei-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and the Beijing-based Association for Relations across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) have met twice a yearto facilitate dialogue, which resulted in the signing of a raft of deals on trade and people-to-people exchange.

Cross-Straits trade in 2013 stood at nearly $197.3 billion, with an increase of 16.7 percent year-on-year, according to statistics from the General Administration of Customs.Personnel exchanges between the mainland and Taiwan reached a record high in 2013 at8.08 million, according to the TAO figures.

On this basis, the mainland and Taiwan need to explore new sectors for development and seek deeper political relations, Jin said.

On the sidelines of the APEC meeting in Bali, Indonesia last year, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, said the longstandingcross-Straits political disputes could be gradually and eventually resolved, and "we cannothand those problems down from generation to generation."

In the meantime, meetings between ARATS and SEF can no longer satisfy the new needsarising from the development of cross-Straits relations and a direct dialogue between MACand TAO chiefs is necessary to improve communication and understanding, Jin added.

Wang has previously said he would bring up issues including proposed liaison offices,bilateral efforts on regional economic integration and better health care for Taiwanese students studying on the mainland, according to AFP.

"There will certainly be some results following the meet, although it's uncertain in whatform they will be made," Yang said.

While the meeting on Tuesday was highly anticipated to pave the way for a meetingbetween Xi and Ma, Jin said this would not necessarily lead to such a high-level meeting,which has been hampered by too many preconditions made by Taiwan, and after whichpeople would expect an outcome.

Wang is scheduled to visit the Nanjing mausoleum of Sun Yat-sen, founder of theKuomintang, and head to Shanghai on Thursday to visit think tanks before wrapping up histrip to the mainland on Friday, the Taipei-based Central News Agency reported.

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