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New China official wants think tanks to start political talks with Taiwan

Zhang Zhijun hopes to visit Taiwan

New China official wants think tanks to start political talks with Taiwan

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The new Chinese official in charge of relations with Taiwan said Friday he wanted private think tanks to start talks between both sides about peace and political issues.
Zhang Zhijun made the remarks in his first public speech since being named as the new director of the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office, the counterpart to Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council. His predecessor, Wang Yi, was promoted to foreign minister amid the reshuffles accompanying the accession of Xi Jinping to the presidency of China earlier this month.
Private organizations should first start exchanges on political topics, with private think tanks organizing a peace forum at a suitable time, Zhang told a cross-straits seminar in Pingtan, Fujian Province. The comments were evidence that China wanted to speed up political talks with Taiwan, the Chinese-language United Evening News wrote Friday.
Zhang emphasized China would continue to expand economic cooperation and interaction of personnel with Taiwan and would sign cultural and scientific agreements at an appropriate time.
He said there were still some political issues left in the relationship which were extremely complex and difficult to solve. It was necessary to recognize those issues without establishing any taboos, but one should also move ahead with thinking of solutions, Zhang said. He said it was better to start with the easier parts before progressing to more difficult issues while gradually reaching a consensus.
One possible way was to let private individuals and organizations begin with the interaction about those issues, he said, suggesting the hosting of a peace forum by think tanks from China and Taiwan.
The new official described the past five years as the period with the biggest achievements in cross-straits relations, the highest levels of benefit to the public on both sides and least amount of strife.
Zhang said China’s policies toward Taiwan would not only not change, but become even better. He promised the Taiwan Affairs Office would seek ways to make it easier for Taiwanese citizens to travel, work, create and do business in China. According to Zhang, interaction and exchanges between basic citizens and youths on both sides should be encouraged to increase mutual understanding. In that light, China would also allow more of its citizens to travel to Taiwan on individual journeys, he said. At present, such trips are only allowed for residents of a limited number of Chinese cities and areas.
Zhang welcomed what he described as changes in attitude on the part of some opposition Democratic Progressive Party politicians. They were now willing to offer constructive suggestions and actions to improve relations with China, he said.
The new Taiwan Affairs Office chief also expressed his interest in visiting Taiwan, a prerogative usually reserved for chief cross-straits negotiators, who serve as chairman of the semi-official Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits.
Wang Yi reportedly expressed regret at not being able to make the trip during the five years he led the Taiwan Affairs Office. Zhang said he hoped he would not have to face the same kind of regret during his term.
He said he was also prepared to meet, drink tea and chat with ‘the relevant person responsible,’ a reference to MAC Minister Wang Yu-chi. The latter has said he would welcome a visit by Zhang, but that he would not accept being addressed as Mister Wang. Since China does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation, it refuses to use official government titles. Zhang said he hoped there should be no preconditions to an eventual trip.


Updated : 2020-11-30 20:05 GMT+08:00