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First center launched for improving cross-Strait exchange

A major battlefield on which the Kuomintang (KMT) army fought Japanese invading forces during World War II has been formally turned into a base for improving trade and cultural exchange across the Taiwan Strait.

It is believed to the first cross-Strait exchange base ever built on the mainland.

A grand ceremony was organized on Thursday to mark the start of the base's service at Taierzhuang Ancient Town, located in Zaozhuang City, east China's Shandong Province, with attendance of dignitaries from both sides of the Strait including Wu Poh-Hsiung, honorary chairman of the KMT Party, and Chen Wei, mayor of the city of Zaozhuang.

The cross-Strait exchange base got approval for establishment by the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council in December 2009. It will have a planned development area of about 2 square kilometers, according to Zaozhuang Mayor Chen Wei.

A test run of the base was introduced last May. More than 1.3 million tourists have visited the base since then, said Chen Wei.

Wu Poh-Hsiung, honorary chairman of the KMT Party, said at Thursday's opening ceremony that Taierzhuang was a perfect place to house a cross-Strait base because it had provided a bond by its history between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan.

In April 1938, General Li Zongren led KMT troops in a bloody but victorious campaign against the Japanese aggressors at Taierzhuang -- a victory that greatly boosted the morale of the Chinese people.

The majority of KMT members fled to Taiwan in 1949 after they were defeated by Communist Party of China (CPC), which founded the People's Republic of China later that year.

Zaozhuang is home to 144 Taiwan-funded enterprises, with the inflow of Taiwan investments totaling 210 million U.S. dollars.