Taiwan leaders express sympathy over flood disaster in China
Taipei, July 22 (CNA) Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) have extended condolences to the victims of the deadly floods in China over the past two days.
At least 33 people have been killed and some 200,000 displaced by the severe floods that hit Zhengzhou City in Henan province, which was deluged by a year's worth of rainfall Tuesday, according to foreign news reports.
"President Tsai extends her sympathies and condolences to the flood victims and hopes life can return to normal soon for the survivors," Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) told reporters Wednesday.
Vice President Lai also expressed similar sentiments in a Facebook post Thursday.
"In this disaster that has hit the Chinese people, we sincerely hope there will be no more casualties in the flooded areas and all those affected will weather the difficult times," Lai wrote.
Also on Wednesday, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the main government agency that handles cross-strait affairs, said that it hopes the flood survivors will remain safe and that their damaged homes will be rebuilt soon.
The MAC's counterpart in China, the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), said in response that it appreciated the messages of concern.
"We appreciate the sympathies and concerns expressed by the Taiwan side, as well as the donations of relief supplies from some Taiwan enterprises," TAO spokesperson Zhu Fenglian (朱鳳蓮) said in a statement Thursday.
The friendly exchanges were considered rare, as the two sides are usually engaged in harsh criticism and rhetoric against each other, due to their political differences.
China considers Taiwan part of its territory and refuses to renounce the use of force to "reunify" the democratic island.
Despite the hostility, leaders on both sides have reached out to each other during major disasters over the years.
On April 3, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), in his capacity as the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, expressed his condolences over a train crash in Taiwan that had killed 49 people a day earlier.
The TAO and China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, an NGO set up by Beijing to handle technical or business matters with Taiwan, also issued similar statements at the time.
On Thursday, Chao Chun-shan (趙春山), an honorary professor of China studies at Tamkang University in New Taipei, noted in a phone interview with CNA that some of Taiwan's messages of sympathy over the Henan floods had come directly from the president.
"I hope those on the other side of the Taiwan Strait can feel Taiwan's goodwill," he said.
He suggested that bilateral cooperation in areas such as climate change and disaster response could help to narrow the rift between the two sides.
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