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Top Official's Taiwan Visit Refused
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Beijing's top official on cross-Straits affairs was forced to cancel a planned visit to Taiwan yesterday, due to Taipei's refusal to allow him to attend an agricultural forum.

The decision came as the event's organizers yesterday decided to relocate its venue from Taipei to a mainland city.

This is the second time Chen Yunlin, director of the Taiwan Work Office of the CPC Central Committee, has been spurned by Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration.

He had accepted an invitation from Taiwan's opposition Kuomintang (KMT) to attend the cross-Straits agricultural forum, which is scheduled to run on October 22 and 23.

If approved, Chen, also head of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, would have become the highest-ranking mainland official to visit the island since 1949.

"It has obviously become impossible for the agricultural forum to be held in Taipei as scheduled despite our utmost efforts," said Tseng Yung-chuan, director of the KMT's central policy committee, apparently referring to the DPP administration's refusal to approve Chen's visit. "We deeply regret this."

Following a 2-hour meeting with Chen yesterday afternoon, Tseng said both sides agreed to move the agricultural forum to the mainland upon the advice of the KMT.

"It will be held in mid- or late October in the mainland," he told a press briefing.

"But the exact date and venue for the event will be decided through further consultation" between the KMT and the Taiwan Affairs Office.

Chen expressed his disappointment with the DPP administration's refusal to allow him to visit the island, which he said was aimed at helping promote Taiwan's agricultural development.

"I myself have been really longing for a chance to go (to Taiwan), but it seems now we have met with some difficulty," he told reporters.

"As we all have is time for us to reconsider."

Tseng blamed the change mainly on the DPP administration's deliberate and indefinite delay in approving Chen's planned visit.

The KMT officially filed the application for the visit of Chen with the island's "immigration office" on August 20.

But the "mainland affairs council," the island's top policy body concerning the mainland, asked for government talks with Beijing to arrange Chen's visit.

Beijing, however, has refused to negotiate with the pro-independence DPP unless it embraces the one-China principle that both Taiwan and the mainland belong to the same China.

In a statement issued late last night, the Taiwan Affairs Office also accused the Taiwan authorities of "unreasonably setting hurdles to foil the plan to hold the forum in Taipei."

"We regret that the Taiwan authorities have persistently raised various political conditions to delay and block such an exchange that is conducive to improving and developing cross-Straits relations," the statement said.

The first such request from the KMT concerning Chen's visit last December was also turned down.

The upcoming forum is the second one jointly held by the KMT and CPC, with the last one hosted in Beijing in April to focus on cross-Straits economy and trade.

(China Daily September 8, 2006)

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