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First Cross-Straits Nongovernmental Forum Opens

The first Cross-Straits Nongovernmental Forum of Elites opened in Shanghai today, aiming to provide a new platform for commercial and academic exchanges between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan.

Chen Yunlin, director of the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said the two-day event was "of far-reaching significance to push cross-Straits relations toward peaceful and stable development."

"We hope we can collect the ideas and suggestions of people from all walks of life on both sides of the Straits on major issues concerning cross-Straits relations through the forum," said Chen.

Jia Qinglin, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, and James Soong, chairman of Taiwan's People First Party (PFP) were present at the opening session.

Jointly sponsored by Taiwan Work Office and the policy research center of the PFP Central Committee, the forum is one result of Soong's meeting with Hu Jintao, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, in May.

More than 120 academics and business people from both sides of the Straits attended to discuss Taiwan investment in the mainland, direct air and shipping links, agricultural exchange and cooperation and improvement in investment and trade.

Soong arrived in Shanghai yesterday afternoon to a warm welcome.

(Xinhua News Agency September 15, 2005)

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