Mainland official calls for deeper ties in talks with Taipei mayor in Beijing

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 June, 2014, 4:25am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 June, 2014, 9:49am

Beijing's top official for cross-strait affairs, Zhang Zhijun, called for more communication with Taiwan as he met visiting Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin in Beijing yesterday.

The meeting came after Zhang, the director of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, wrapped up his four-day landmark visit to the island. Some of his activities were cancelled amid clashes between protesters and police.

Mainland observers said the latest exchanges between Beijing and the island marked a shift in how Beijing approached Taiwan, to focus more on making contact with ordinary members of the public.

Zhang told Hau that maintaining positive cross-strait relations had become mainstream public opinion in Taiwan, Xinhua reported. Interaction and cooperation in all areas should be enhanced to bring more benefits to regular people on both sides, he was quoted as saying.

Taiwan's Central News Agency quoted sources who attended the meeting as saying Zhang told Hau the protests did not represent the majority of Taiwanese people's views and that cross-strait relations had improved.

Hau, a member of the island's ruling, mainland-friendly Kuomintang, told reporters as he wrapped up his four-day trip Beijing should understand the diversity of public opinion in Taiwan.

Zhang's visit came after a series of protests in March when students occupied the island's legislature to protest against a trade services pact with the mainland. The agreement had been viewed as a sign of improving ties, but protestors feared it would lead to job losses and undermine Taiwan's democracy.

Yang Lixian, a researcher at the Institute of Taiwan Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the protests against the trade pact showed Beijing had problems in accurately assessing public opinion in Taiwan. Zhang hoped to address that by having contact with young people on the island.

"More work will be done to let common Taiwanese people know more about the mainland," Yang said.

Li Fei, the deputy director of the Taiwan Research Institute at Xiamen University, said Zhang's trip indicated the mainland would broaden its contact beyond senior Kuomintang figures and mainland-friendly politicians.