Historic visit of Chinese envoy to Taiwan

THE most senior Chinese official to visit Taiwan since the end of a civil war 60 years ago said yesterday that historic talks to take place this week are the only way to build trust between the arch rivals.

Chen Yunlin arrived in Taipei from Beijing for talks on strengthening economic ties, as supporters of independence for the island staged demonstrations and planned mass rallies against his visit.

He landed amid tight security at Taiwan’s international airport just before midday (04.00 GMT) for a five-day visit during which he will meet his Taiwanese counterparts, as well as the island’s president, Ma Ying-jeou.

In a sign of warming ties, Chen, head of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), was accompanied by a delegation of more than 60 officials and business leaders.

Chen waved to waiting reporters as he descended from his plane to be met by Kao Koong-lian, the vice-chairman of Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation, the local equivalent of ARATS.

After arriving at Taipei’s Grand Hotel, he told a brief welcoming ceremony the talks were a “milestone” in cross-strait relations.

“Peaceful development is the wish for both sides. Communication will promote mutual trust and cooperation will lead to a win-win situation. The talks between the two organisations are the way to promote peaceful developments and are the joint expectations of the people on both sides.”

The talks would benefit both parties, he said, adding they would “not cover political issues”.

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