The mainland's former top cross-strait negotiator Chen Yunlin arrived in Taipei yesterday for an eight-day visit, his first since retiring as head of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (Arats) on April 26.
Chen, who now serves as a senior adviser to Arats, is scheduled to meet Taiwanese friends and politicians in his private capacity, a status that will enable him to freely exchange views on further cross-strait co-operation and the possibility of political dialogue, something the mainland hopes to start in the near future.
"Visiting Taiwan is the most important and urgent thing I want to do after stepping down from public office," he said at Taoyuan International Airport.
He said that in the past two decades he had made friends with many people in Taiwan who had contributed greatly to promoting cross-strait peace, and he hoped to use the opportunity of his private visit to express his appreciation to them.
Chen said he would also brief them on the new personnel arrangements made during Arats' board meeting in Beijing on April 26, which saw him succeeded by former mainland commerce minister Chen Deming .
Chen Yunlin had represented Beijing in signing 18 non-political co-operation agreements with Chiang Pin-kung of Taipei's Straits Exchange Foundation, since Ma Ying-jeou became Taiwanese president in 2008 and adopted a policy of engagement with Beijing. He was invited to visit Taiwan in his private capacity by Kuomintang honorary chairman Lien Chan, and will return to Beijing on Monday.
Lien's office said Chen Yunlin would stay in Taipei for two days before heading to southern, eastern and northeastern Taiwan. He will also meet Chiang, former KMT chairman Wu Poh-hsiung, People First Party head James Soong Chu-yu, and Cecilia Koo Yen Tso-yun, the widow of late SEF chairman Koo Chen-fu.
[Correction: An earlier version showed a photo of Chiang Pin-kung of Taiwan with the wrong caption. It has been changed to a photo of Chen Yunlin.]