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Straits forum could get wider
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The next cross-Straits Economic, Trade and Cultural Forum could see more people from different political spectrums, Wu Poh-hsiung, chairman of Kuomintang (KMT) party in Taiwan said yesterday.

The participants could be from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the biggest opposition party in Taiwan, too, he said.

"In fact, at this forum, only a minority of the 400-strong group from Taiwan are KMT party members. Though this forum was originally created as a communication platform between the KMT and the Communist Party, we welcome voices from different fields," Wu told the mainland media at the end of the fourth cross-Straits Economic, Trade and Cultural Forum.

The first forum was held in Beijing on April 14, 2006, to boost cross-Straits ties after former KMT chairman Lien Chan paid a historical visit to the mainland in 2005.

"It's true and normal that some people in Taiwan have a different opinion about this forum and about KMT's policy toward the mainland. But I believe that given the results of the forum they will change their mind," Wu said.

Wang Yi, director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, corroborated Wu, saying: "We sincerely welcome representatives from all political parties and people from all walks of life on both sides to the meeting. Officials of major departments on both sides could attend as experts."

Wang said: "We welcome people who share our opinions and we also welcome those with different opinions."

The best way to achieve good results, Wu said, is to make the forum's 10 policies and nine suggestions into reality as soon as possible.

"Among the mainland government's policies is a move to stimulate Taiwan companies. I will urge the Taiwan side to put the great goodwill of the mainland into practice as soon as I return to the island," Wu said.

But the separatist DPP is pressuring the KMT to abandon its policy toward the mainland.

Wang Jiann-Chyuan, vice-president of Chung-hua Institution for Economic Research, said at the forum earlier: "As the global recession has hit the island and Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou's new policies are yet to bear results, his support has fallen 20 to 30 percent from what it was when he was elected."

"The DPP is exploiting that to challenge the KMT's positive policies toward the mainland, putting greater pressure on the KMT against consolidating cross-Straits ties," Wang said.

But the KMT is determined to further develop peaceful ties with the mainland. "The first forum was held when the KMT was in the opposition, and since we are the 'ruling party' now, we will stick to our stance. It's easier to turn the forum's suggestions into reality now," Wu said.

"Since we won the election, it proves the majority of the people support our policies toward the mainland. They benefit both sides. I believe with patience and persistence, the facts will prove we are right," Wu said.

(China Daily December 22, 2008)

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