CHINA> Interactive and comment
Experts assess impact of agreements across Straits
Updated: 2008-11-05 20:05

BEIJING  -- Experts on both sides of the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday welcomed the agreements to improve relations signed by the two main negotiating bodies from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan.

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, on Tuesday signed four agreements on food safety, direct shipping and flights, and mail services.

Yang Lixian, deputy secretary-general of the National Taiwan Studies Society, called the agreements "big breakthroughs", saying the dreams long cherished by people on both sides would soon come true.

She believed the agreements would promote exchanges, and trade and economic cooperation, and facilitate logistics and capital flow.

"We can expect more mainland tourists to visit Taiwan and easier communication," she said, adding the closer contacts would enhance understanding and resolve differences.

The agreements benefited Taiwan especially, by improving economic competitiveness, drawing foreign investment and enhancing public confidence, she said.

Chen's visit to Taiwan also signified that a regular cross-strait consultation process had begun and mutual trust had improved, which would help resolve future problems, she said.

Chang Wu-ueh, an expert on mainland studies from Taiwan's Tamkang University, said the agreements were the most notable achievements since the two sides began contacts more than 20 years ago and would have a far-reaching impact on relations.

They set an indicator for regular consultations across the strait and gave the world a positive signal on regional peace, he said.

The agreements would benefit the public and those in the sea and air transport industries and help enterprises reduce costs, he said.

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.