P.K. Chiang, vice-chairman of the Taiwan-based Chinese Kuomintang party (KMT), is hoping his visit to the mainland will ease recently strained cross-Strait tensions as well as promote economic ties.
Chiang, who is leading a 34-member delegation, arrived at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in the Guangdong provincial capital yesterday afternoon.
The vice-chairman's arrival marks the KMT's first formal visit to the mainland since the group fled to Taiwan in 1949.
Chiang said he was particularly hoping to help farmers in Taiwan sell more agricultural produce to the vast mainland market.
Currently, Taiwan's annual agricultural sales to the mainland are around US$300 million while its agricultural imports from other provinces, municipalities and regions come to US$500 million.
Spurred by the successful direct charter flight service during the lunar new year period, Chiang said he would be discussing the possibility of providing more charter flight services across the Straits during traditional festivals and even at weekends to meet growing demand from both sides.
Chiang said he hoped to negotiate with relevant mainland departments about opening direct cargo transport links cross the Taiwan Straits, benefiting Taiwan's investors who have set up manufacturing facilities on the mainland.
Taiwan's investors "can waste no time to put their products into markets," Chiang said.
In remarks made yesterday to Guangdong Governor Huang Huahua, Chiang hinted that Lien Chan, chairman of the KMT, also wants to visit the mainland later this year to discuss the possible expansion of economic ties between the mainland and Taiwan.
Before leaving Guangzhou for Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu Province, Chiang met local representatives of Taiwan investors, to discuss ways of smoothing business across the straits. The group will also visit Beijing before their return to Taiwan on April 1.
Chiang also described his visit as a trip to cherish the memory of KMT martyrs.
Chiang and his delegation are scheduled to visit Guangzhou Huanghuagang Martyr Cemetery where 72 martyrs were buried this morning.
When Dr Sun Yat-sen led the Huanghuagang Uprising in Guangzhou to overthrow the rule of the late corrupt Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) government in April of 1911, 86 of his allies were slain.
A commemorative park was later constructed to mark the graves of 72 of the heroes in Huanghuagang in Guangzhou's Dongshan District.
The park became known as the 72 Huanghuagang Martyr Cemetery and 94 years on, has become a new tourist attraction in the Guangdong provincial capital.
The traditional Chinese Qingming Festival period is a busy period when people from home and abroad come to pay their respects. The event usually takes place on April 5, the traditional time that Chinese visit their ancestors final resting place to worship during what is commonly known as the "grave sweeping" festival.
Built in 1912, the park covers an area of more than 129,000 square metres. On the main gate of the park are four Chinese characters Hao Qi Chang Cun, which means imperishable noble spirit.
The Chinese characters were written Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the pioneer of the Chinese revolution and the founding father of the republic. Sun died aged in 1925 at the age of 59.
Buried at the cemetery are famous revolutionary martyrs Pan Dawei, Deng Zhongyuan, Yang Xianyi, Feng Ru and Shi Jianru.
In 1986, the park was listed by the State Council as a key State-level historical protection unit.
(China Daily March 29, 2005)