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Lien's Visit Paves Way for New Exchange

Kuomintang (KMT) leader Lien Chan said Monday that his party and the Communist Party of China (CPC) have agreed to set up two forums to facilitate the establishment of regular inter-party exchanges.


One forum will center on cross-Straits peace and development and the other will be devoted to economic, trade and cultural exchanges between the two sides, the KMT chairman noted.


Lien made the remarks at a news conference while elaborating on consensus reached in a joint communique issued on Friday following his historic talks with Hu Jintao, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee.


The CPC and KMT will work together to establish a platform for regular party-to-party communications at all levels, Lien told reporters.


The KMT Central Committee and the Taiwan Work Office of the CPC Central Committee have been entrusted with the effort.


"Such forums aim to exchange views, build consensus and offer advice for both sides of the Straits," Lien said.


The 69-year-old leader, who is the first KMT chairman to visit the mainland in 56 years, stressed that others will also be invited to attend the talks.


Leading a 60-member delegation, Lien arrived in Shanghai on the last leg of his eight-day, four-city mainland trip. The delegation will leave for Taipei this afternoon.


At the news briefing, he highlighted other breakthroughs, including saying that the mainland had for the first time agreed to promote the signing of a peace accord and the establishment of a mechanism for military mutual trust across the Straits.


Such a move suggests the ideas, which used to be unilateral Taipei proposals, have met with a "positive response" from the CPC, Lien said.


"We hope the Taiwan government will actively prepare for implementation of the consensus through cross-Straits dialogue," he said.


KMT spokesman Chang Yung-kung later said his party, through the current mainland visit, has found a correct path for Taiwan to follow.


"We are not faced with only one way of moving towards cross-Straits confrontation, hostility and even collision. Rather, we can choose an alternative way of promoting reconciliation, peaceful co-existence and common development," said Chang.


He was apparently referring to the attempt by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration to push for "Taiwan independence."


At a luncheon hosted by local Taiwan business people Monday, Lien urged greater efforts to push forward cross-Straits economic cooperation.


He said the mainland has become one of the most important manufacturing markets in the world after two decades of fast economic growth.


Such changes cannot be neglected just because of strong ideology and out-dated thinking, he said.

Taiwan should make a critical decision to set up a framework for economic cooperation with the mainland as soon as possible, he said.


The need is absolutely required, given the highly complementary nature of the two sides.


He pointed to the proposed establishment of a cross-Straits common market in the KMT-CPC communique, saying the proposal can help avoid "unnecessary disputes."


The mainland has proposed building a closer economic partnership arrangement (CEPA) with Taiwan, modeling its economic cooperation after Hong Kong and Macao.


But Taipei insists on signing a free trade agreement (FTA) with the mainland as an attempt to promote its identification as an independent country.


The KMT leader suggested the proposed common market should have the same contents as an FTA and should be more easily accepted by both sides.


(China Daily May 3, 2005)

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