China's Taiwan Affairs Office Director Wang Yi said Monday that Beijing welcomes a proposal from Taiwanese Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai to hold a cross-Taiwan Strait cultural forum.
Lung would be welcome to visit Beijing and talk at the forum, as long as she can contend with "an appropriate status," Wang told reporters during a meeting with members of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) Youth Work Committee in China's capital.
It is the first official response from Beijing since Lung proposed the idea in late May. Lung said her ministry hopes to hold a forum with its Chinese counterpart to discuss necessary changes to cultural policies in an increasingly globalized and changing world.
The relationship between Taiwan and China has seen great improvment since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008.
The two sides are due to hold high-level talks June 29 in Taipei between Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung and his Chinese counterpart, Chen Yunlin of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS).
The SEF and ARATS are quasi-official bodies responsible for cross-strait activities in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.
In addition, a cross-strait forum will be held June 16 in the city of Xiamen in China's Fujian Province.
The following are excerpts from a report in Tuesday's edition of the United Daily News on Wang's remarks:
Asked whether the establishment of reciprocal offices between the SEF and ARATS will be touched upon in the upcoming Chiang-Chen meeting, Wang said China has always supported such a notion.
"Of course we hope (to discuss the matter) sooner. But when I said we hope to discuss it sooner, Taiwan says China is rushing us. In fact, we are in no hurry at all. It's just a matter of time before we begin such discussions," Wang said.
Wang said the two sides should define the scope of work, the people involved and the location of the offices.
The two sides are due to sign an investment protection pact and focus on customs cooperation in the upcoming Chiang-Chen meeting, he said.
On the idea of a cross-strait forum, Wang said China will announce new policies toward Taiwan, including increasing imports of Taiwanese agricultural products, simplifying Taiwanese nationals' check-in procedures for entering China, and measures aimed at increasing the employment opportunities for Taiwanese in China.
In terms of China's relations with Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Wang said that as long as the DPP refuses to give up on its pro-independence stance and its denial of the so-called "1992 consensus," the Communist Party of China will "have difficulty" engaging in dialogue with the DPP.
The "1992 consensus" refers to a tacit understanding between Beijing and Taipei that there is only one "China" and that each side is free to interpret the meaning of "one China." (June 12, 2012)
(By Ann Chen)