Shanghai plans to invite a group of mayors from several Taiwan cities to a conference later this year to step up the city's role in promoting ties with the island, the Shanghai Daily said. The move would enable the highest level contact between Chinese and Taiwanese government officials since 1949. Details on which officials will attend the symposium on urban development later this year have yet to be finalised, but Taipei Vice-Mayor Pai Hsiu-hsiung will come to Shanghai this month for a conference on city development. The visit follows Shanghai Vice-Mayor Feng Guoqin's trip to Taiwan last month as part of a nine-day tour to inspect social welfare projects. The newspaper did not say which city leaders would be invited or name the organisation that would sponsor the seminar. An official at the Taiwan Affairs office in Shanghai said only that such a plan was being considered. Shanghai officials have made it clear they see a higher profile for themselves in building cross-Strait ties, particularly as Taiwan businessmen have shown growing interest in investing in the city. The city's efforts are also in line with Beijing's policy of providing a counterweight to any drift towards separatism by Taiwan while the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party holds the island's presidency. Shanghai has already invited Ma Ying-jeou, the popular mayor of Taipei and a member of the opposition Kuomintang. Taichung Mayor Chang Wen-ying, a member of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, has expressed interest in visiting Shanghai this month. Yin Chi-ming, a Vice-Minister of Economic Affairs, has also included a stop in Shanghai on his present visit to the mainland. China has been focusing on luring Taiwan's opposition parties to put pressure on Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian to relax a ban on direct trade, transport and postal ties. But Taiwan has so far resisted a faster relaxation of restrictions, fearing this might damage its economy and weaken its hand.