KMT official thanks Taiwanese in Shanghai on warming visit

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 April, 2008, 12:00am

Chiang Pin-kung, a vice-chairman of Taiwan's Kuomintang, arrived in Shanghai yesterday on the first stop of a four-day visit to the mainland that signals improving relations across the strait.

Mr Chiang, who will become the top negotiator of the Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), expressed his gratitude to Shanghai-based Taiwanese businessmen for supporting Ma Ying-jeou, who won the presidential poll in a landslide.

'Mr Ma's victory is not just an honour, but an indication of the future of Taiwan and the peaceful and stable cross-strait relationship ... and this is the most important task for us,' Mr Chiang said, bowing to a banquet hall of executives.

He promised to launch the long-expected weekend cross-strait charter flights in July and promote daily air service in July next year. Liberalisation of entry requirements for mainland tourists would follow, he said.

Mr Chiang said the daily number of mainland tourists to Taiwan would increase from 3,000 to 7,000, and finally reach 10,000 in four years.

As the chief representative for cross-strait affairs, he also pledged that the SEF would take responsibility for negotiations with mainland organisations after Mr Ma's inauguration on May 20.

Mr Chiang refused to say whether he would discuss the charter flights and other exchange issues with mainland officials during this visit, saying it was just a trip to meet Taiwanese businessmen.

There was speculation that Mr Chiang would meet Yang Xiaodu , who is in charge of public relations affairs of the Communist Party, in Shanghai today, but the meeting has not been announced.

He is due to visit the Shanghai operations of Taiwanese corporations before travelling to Kunshan and Xiamen , Fujian province . He will visit Shenzhen and Dongguan , Guangdong province, last.

Reports speculated he would make a second trip soon to attend an event hosted by the Taiwan Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Beijing. He is also likely to set up an administrative office on the mainland.

David Chou - vice-president of Shanghai Chenxin Hospital, the first Taiwanese-funded medical facility on the mainland - said the promising future between the two sides had to bring more opportunities for Taiwanese businesses.

'I'm looking forward to the start of charter flights because for us, it means more Taiwanese doctors can come to Shanghai, and we can have better exchanges with mainland hospitals.'