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CPC, KMT to Hold Economic, Trade Forum
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The Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Kuomintang Party (KMT) agreed on Wednesday to hold a forum on economic and trade affairs between the mainland and Taiwan in Beijing from April 14 to 15.

The decision was made on Wednesday during talks between Chen Yunlin, director of the Taiwan Work Office of the CPC Central Committee, and a delegation from the KMT think tank.

Co-sponsored by the CPC and the KMT, the forum will focus on cross-Straits economic and trade exchanges and the opening of direct transport links.

About 300 people, including high-level officials of the CPC and KMT and businessmen and scholars from both sides of the Straits, are expected to attend the forum.

The forum was originally scheduled to be held last December in Taipei. Plans had to be changed because of reported obstruction by the Taiwan authorities.

Chen said comprehensively promoting cross-Straits economic exchanges and cooperation and realizing direct, two-way and comprehensive direct mail, trade and transport links as early as possible are matters that benefit everyone, especially Taiwan compatriots.

"We should put people's interests first and work to bring benefits to them," he said.

He said the increased sale of Taiwan farm produce on the mainland, enlarged investments by Taiwan businessmen in the mainland and travel all require direct two-way links.

"People will not be satisfied if their wishes are not met. They will not consent to the prolonged obstruction of direct links," Chen added.

Cross-Straits exchanges have continued to grow despite opposition from Taiwan authorities. A total of 68,095 projects funded by Taiwan businessmen had been approved by the mainland by the end of 2005, with a contractual investment of US$89.7 billion.

The mainland is Taiwan's No.1 export market and largest trade surplus source. Indirect cross-Straits trade volume was US$495.81 billion at the end of 2005, including US$414.08 billion in Taiwan exports to the mainland.

Taiwan residents made four million visits to the mainland, while mainland residents made 160,000 visits to Taiwan in 2005.

(Xinhua News Agency March 23, 2006)

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