Praise for architect of cross-strait dialogue

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2005, 12:00am

The last time the mainland's top negotiator on cross-strait issues, Wang Daohan, sat down to talk with a Taiwanese political figure in Shanghai was in 1998.

Mr Wang met the then-chairman of Taiwan's Strait Exchange Foundation, Koo Chen-fu, a member of the Kuomintang which ruled the island at the time.

Nearly seven years later, Mr Wang met the leader of the KMT, now Taiwan's opposition party, yesterday for an exchange of gifts and polite words.

KMT chairman Lien Chan praised Mr Wang for creating 'a history of peaceful exchange' when the two met at the Jinjiang Hotel, the same hotel where then US president Richard Nixon stayed during his historic visit to the mainland in 1972.

'You are the person who created a history of peaceful exchange across the two sides of the strait,' Mr Lien said.

Recalling Mr Wang's 1998 meeting with Koo, who died in January, Mr Lien said Taiwan and the mainland had been able to conduct talks on their own soil, without needing to find a third location.

He added that the mainland and Taiwan were faced with a historic opportunity to promote cross-strait ties on the basis of the direction set by that meeting.

Mr Wang, who made his way to the hotel from the hospital where he is staying because of his ailing health, asked the KMT leader to pass his regards to Koo's widow, as he had been unable to attend the funeral because he was ill.

'I feel deeply grieved at the loss of an old friend, who has all along stood by the 1992 consensus,' Mr Wang said.

Mr Lien gave Mr Wang an oil painting of a mountain landscape which had been painted by Koo and a letter from his widow, Koo Yen Cho-yun.

Mr Lien also presented a history of Taiwan written by his grandfather and copies of his own books, calling them 'just some immature thoughts I scribbled down'.