|First Straits talks in 9 years open|
|Beijing, 12 June 2008|
The chairmen of the Chinese mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) and the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) on Thursday convened their first talks in nine years.
ARATS chairman Chen Yunlin and SEF chairman Chiang Pin-kun started their talks at around 9 a.m. in Beijing.
Chen Yunlin said, "Since March this year, positive changes have taken place in cross-Strait relations."
"As wished by people on the two sides, the talks resumed today after nearly 10 years' suspension.
"At this important historical moment, we must remember the late ARATS chairman Wang Daohan and SEF chairman Koo Chen-fu when we shake hands," he said.
"Though they have passed away, their contributions to the improvement in cross-Strait relations are engraved on our minds," he said.
"We will carry on their unfinished tasks."
"We feel the great responsibility of this glorious mission and we must spare no effort in realizing the aspirations of people on the two sides," he said.
The ARATS and SEF are authorized non-governmental organizations engaged in talks on issues related to exchanges across the Taiwan Strait.
The ARATS was established in Beijing on Dec. 16, 1991, aimed at promoting cross-Strait exchanges, developing cross-Strait relations and realizing a peaceful reunification of China.
The SEF was established in Taipei on Nov. 21, 1990. It was authorized by the Mainland Affairs Council under the "Executive Yuan" of Taiwan to deal with cross-Strait affairs deemed "inconvenient" for the Taiwan authority to handle.
Chen expressed his hope that the ARATS and SEF could reach consensus and sign an agreement as soon as possible during the talks.
"Many problems in economic, cultural and social fields need to be addressed after a long time was idled away," he said.
"We sincerely hope we can seize this opportunity to promptly and actively exchange views so as to outline practical plans based on the expectations and benefits of the people on the two sides," he said.
In 1992, the two organizations held negotiations in Hong Kong on how to state "adherence to the one-China policy" and reached the "1992 Consensus".
In 1993, ARATS chairman Wang Daohan and SEF chairman Koo Chen-fu held talks in Singapore in the first public meeting between high-level figures in the name of non-governmental organization leaders since 1949.
The meeting between Wang and Koo established an institutionalized negotiation mechanism and marked an important step forward in the cross-Strait relations.
During the meeting, four agreements were signed to promote trade and people-to-people exchanges.
After the meeting, more than 20 consultations at different levels were held. In 1998, Wang and Koo held meeting again in Shanghai.
Talks between the two sides were suspended in 1999 after Taiwan leader at the time Li Teng-hui proposed his "special state-to-state" model for cross-Strait relations.
(Xinhua News Agency June 12, 2008)