Straits ties to expand despite pact suspension

Updated: 2014-06-16 08:34

By Sun Li and Hu Meidong in Xiamen (China Daily USA)

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A top mainland official vowed on Sunday to enhance cross-Straits ties after a key trade pact made little progress because of violent protests in Taiwan.

The mainland will continue working on measures in the interests of Taiwan people, and the key to further development lies in both sides adhering to the 1992 consensus and opposing "Taiwan independence", top political adviser Yu Zhengsheng said.

Yu, chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, made the remarks in a keynote speech at the opening of the sixth Straits Forum in Xiamen, Fujian province, which is scheduled to continue through Friday.

Zhang Zhijun, head of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said on Thursday that cross-Straits relations encountered "a wave of turbulence", but the difficulties will be resolved.

Zhang was speaking after the suspension of a cross-Straits service trade pact. The pact, signed in June 2013, would open 80 of the mainland's service sectors to Taiwan and 64 Taiwan sectors to the mainland.

In April, it was returned to the island's legislative authority for review after a weekslong protest launched by hundreds of students.

On Sunday, Zhang said the mainland will keep facilitating cross-Straits financial cooperation and supporting Taiwan's small and medium-sized businesses to exhibit and promote their products on the mainland.

The mainland will encourage trade unions, and youth and women's associations on both sides to engage in a range of activities to boost communication between NGOs and everyday people on both sides, Zhang said.

"As the tourism industry has played an increasingly important role in stimulating the economy and generating jobs, the mainland will consider opening more cities that will allow their residents to travel to Taiwan as individual tourists," he said.

Since June 2011, residents of 26 mainland cities - including Beijing, Xiamen, Shenyang and Suzhou -have been allowed to travel to Taiwan individually.

On June 23, Zhang will lead a delegation to visit Taiwan - the first such visit of a chief of the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office.

Yang Li-ching, a businessman from Tainan, Taiwan, said he is pleased to see more new, favorable policies, especially those regarding individuals touring Taiwan.

"Policies about individual tourists are a great convenience for people across the Straits, but with increasing people-to-people exchanges, more cities need to be opened," Yang said.

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An Baijie in Beijing contributed to this story.

(China Daily USA 06/16/2014 page1)