A grand gathering marking the 3rd Cross-Straits Economic, Trade, and Cultural Forum took place at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing today, aiming to further commercial and academic exchanges between the mainland and Taiwan.
The two-day forum was jointly sponsored by the Research Center for Relations across the Taiwan Straits under the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the National Politics Research Fund of Kuomintang (KMT) of China.
Jia Qinglin, head of China's top advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and Lien Chan, honorary chairman of KMT, attended the forum.
At the opening ceremony, Jia delivered a four-point proposal on expanding economic exchange and educational cooperation across the Taiwan Straits.
The mainland and Taiwan "should shelve their differences and strive to create a sound environment for economic exchange and educational cooperation," said Jia, who is also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.
Jia called on people from both the mainland and Taiwan to remember history, join hands to defuse separatist attempts, and promote the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations.
Firstly, he said, the realization of three direct links across the Straits should be pushed forward in compliance with the wishes of the people. The most important aspect of this is the establishment of direct passenger flights and chartered cargo flights.
Secondly, Jia urged the local authorities in Taiwan to open its door to mainland tourists, and encouraged them to highly promote the development of tourism industries.
"One thing that should be emphasized is that tourism is not 'country to country.' It is a kind of domestic communication and cooperation. We hope the current local authorities can follow the will of people from across the Straits," he explained.
His third point addressed educational exchange. "Young people are the future. We should enlarge and deepen the cooperation in education. We expect to send more students to Taiwan and hope the local authorities can do more to promote its development."
Jia said the cross-Straits exchange and cooperation should be elevated in cultural communication, because both the mainland and Taiwan have histories of rich and diverse traditions.
"More performances and book fairs will be held in the future. The mainland and Taiwan should join hands with each other, combine our traditional Chinese culture with modern science and technology and widely broadcast it in the world," he said.
Statistics show that from 1987 to 2006, the number of cross-Straits exchanges reached more than 420 million, and in 2006 the total amount of trade rose to over US$10 million as 70,000 companies and enterprises invested in the mainland.
In April 2005 Lien, then the KMT chairman, made a historic visit to the mainland and met Hu Jintao, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee in Beijing. It marked the first top-level talks between the CPC and KMT in 60 years. The two met again in 2006, during the first cross-Straits forum held in Beijing.
This is the third time that top-level leaders from mainland and Taiwan met again.
During this year's forum, about 500 representatives from the mainland and Taiwan are present at the two-day meeting, with more than 300 of them coming from Taiwan, including representatives of the People First Party (PFP) and the New Party.
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Wang Ke, April 28, 2007)