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Mainland, Taiwan to open biggest-ever non-official forum
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The Chinese mainland and Taiwan are to open the largest-ever non-official cross-Straits forum Saturday evening in the coastal mainland city Xiamen, which faces Taiwan across the sea.

The opening ceremony for the Straits Forum is scheduled to be held at 7:40 p.m., which will last 20 minutes and will be followed by a gala show, the organizers said.

The forum, to run till May 22, features 18 activities including the centerpiece conference, a trade fair, a cultural week, a tourism forum and a seminar on traditional Chinese medicine. It is co-hosted by Fuzhou, Quanzhou and Putian, three other cities in southeastern Fujian Province which faces Taiwan across the sea.

The week-long Straits Forum expects more than 8,000 Taiwan guests, including Chu Li-lun, vice chairman of the Kuomintang Party, mayors and magistrates from 25 Taiwan cities and counties as well as heads of key trade organizations on the island.

Shi Zhenfei, a 60-year-old peddler in Xiamen, said he was very much interested in the event and looked forward to its opening.

"As a Xiamen native, I've heard much about the mainland-Taiwan fighting since I was young," he said. "But no one likes war. Through such kind of activities we the two sides can better understand each other."

(Xinhua News Agency May 16, 2009)

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