CHINA> Interactive and comment
Chen-Chiang talks open new era for cross-Strait ties
Updated: 2008-11-04 22:39

BEIJING  -- Experts from across the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday hailed the agreements signed and the talks between the heads of the two main negotiating bodies of the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, saying they opened a new era in cross-Strait ties.

During Tuesday's talks between the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) president, Chen Yunlin, and the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) chairman, Chiang Pin-kung, four agreements were signed on food safety, direct shipping and flights, and mail services.

Xie Yu, a researcher on Taiwan studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the first-ever visit to Taiwan by an ARATS chief signified that a regular cross-Strait consultation process had begun and relations were progressing in the direction of peace and development.

Today's achievements were hard-won after years of ups and downs, she observed.

Since they resumed talks, the two organizations have been practical in promoting cross-Strait exchanges, she said. They have adopted measures beneficial to both sides, accumulated successful experience and enhanced mutual trust. They would gain support from people on both sides and the international community as well, Xie said.

Chao Chun-Shan, a professor on mainland studies from the Taiwan-based Tamkang University, said the talks were "a big show on the cross-Strait political stage."

The talks represented not only a milestone in cross-Strait relations but also a new opportunity for Taiwan to gain space in a globalized environment, he said.

Leong Kam-man, an associate professor from the Taiwan-based Chi Nan University, said no one could ignore the increasingly closer cross-Strait relationship and both sides needed a platform for more economic and cultural exchanges.

Founded in 1991 and 1990 respectively, the ARATS and SEF are authorized by the mainland and Taiwan to handle cross-Strait civilian exchanges. Negotiations were suspended for almost 10 years until June, when Chen and Chiang held their first meeting in Beijing.