Zhang Zhijun, China's new Taiwan affairs head, outlines agenda

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 March, 2013, 5:31am

Beijing will step up efforts to promote comprehensive development of cross-strait ties, engage Taiwanese compatriots and find ways to speed up political dialogue with Taipei, the mainland's new point man on Taiwan affairs said yesterday.

"This year, the mainland aims to push for the comprehensive advancement of cross-strait relations in a steady manner," the new head of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, Zhang Zhijun, said in outlining his office's agenda.

This year, the mainland aims to push for the comprehensive advancement of cross-strait relations in a steady manner
Zhang Zhijun, head of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office

The former deputy foreign minister said that would be achieved through strengthening the mechanisms dealing with various aspects of cross-strait relations and increasing the quality and efficiency of cross-strait exchanges and co-operation. Zhang, who succeeded Wang Yi as Taiwan Affairs Office chief on Monday, made the comments during the opening of the 11th Cross-Strait Relations Symposium, in Pingtan , Fujian province .

More than 120 experts on cross-strait relations from Taiwan and the mainland attended the two-day event, and were joined by several members of the island's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party.

Stressing that the mainland would not change its "peaceful development" policy, something already spelled out by President Xi Jinping , Zhang called for greater efforts to promote overall cross-strait relations.

He said that with the peaceful development of cross-strait ties, he was gratified to see that some DPP members were willing to change their mindsets and learn more about such development. Cross-strait relations, rocky since the end of the civil war in 1949, have improved greatly since Ma Ying-jeou became Taiwan's president in 2008.

Zhang pledged to accelerate follow-up talks on the 2010 cross-strait Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement in order to benefit mainland-based Taiwanese businessmen, and also promised to "introduce favorable arrangements for Taiwan compatriots" and help them "benefit from cross-strait co-operation".

But he also urged Taiwan to speed up preparation for political dialogue, saying political issues "should never be artificially categorised as a restricted area".

He also asked Taiwan to lift restrictions and allow him to visit, saying he hoped to meet and chat with his Taiwanese counterpart, Wang Yu-chi, the head of the Mainland Affairs Council.