Domestic Affairs

Face-to-face communication, heart-to-heart exchanges

By Li Weina (People's Daily Online)
Updated: 2010-06-22 10:30
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A week-long Second Straits Forum,which is in session from last Saturday through Friday (June 19-25) in the city of Xiamen in east China's Fujian province, would have about 30 upcoming events in this east China coastal city and about eight other adjacent regions, known as the ancestral home of Taiwan compatriots. The eyesight of people across the Straits has set on the ongoing forum, and so the mainland's West Strait Economic Zone is truly worthy of a principal economic player.

When the second unofficial cross-strait forum was in its preparatory phase, a sincere invitation letter was extended to various social strata in Taiwan and representatives at the grassroots levels, and Taiwan compatriots were urged to meet with their mainland peers at their ancestral home in late June. There has been an enthusiastic response to the invitation, which came from Taiwan compatriots, people in central and southern Taiwan, as well as Taiwanese aborigines and personnel from social groups.

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Moreover, the Second Straits Forum has become a hot "feast" for media coverage, and it has so far drawn more than 100 reporters from eight Taiwan media outlets.

The First Strait Forum, also held in Fujian province in 2009, received more than 8,000 guests from Taiwan. A year later, about 80 percent of the Taiwan participants at the forum are non-officials and more than 60 percent are from central and southern Taiwan, according to earlier media reports. The Second Straits Forum has very rich contents, with 10 additional boundary markers as compared to its preceding one held in 2009, and people across the Straits are much more enthusiastic and mutually responsive in their cross-straits activities.

During the second "carnival" of cross-straits exchanges, many Taiwanese have come on their first trip to the mainland. Some have come to find their roots or renew ties, or to visit their relatives or friends, while some others have come for top attractions, scenic viewing, culture or entertainment. With a very lively, joyous mood, more participants are fascinated in cross-straits exchanges, and the scope of their exchanges have widened substantially.

Approximately 80 percent of Taiwan compatriots originate in the mainland's Fujian province. As a matter of fact, there is only a strip of water separating the mainland and the island province. Man-made impediments owing to by decades of confrontation after 1949 has, nevertheless, made people across the Straits drift apart and further alienating. This is not what people across the Straits want to see. Contact face-to-face can reduce or avert their mutual misunderstanding, and all bias will withdraw or be removed with heart-to-heart exchanges.

What is exactly the situation on the Chinese mainland today, and what are things like in Taiwan at present? Let people from across the Straits feel or experience themselves. Consensuses are much more likely to reach with each and every more encounter. Accumulations arising from the seemingly quantitative changes could be the basis on which to build the lasting peace as aspired by public sentiments across the Straits.

The week-long Straits Forum, now in its second year, would feature 25 activities. With this year's theme, "Focus on livelihood benefits both sides of the Straits", the forum has gathered residents from across the Strait to renew friendship and discuss various aspects of cooperation and joint action plans on agriculture, tourism, banking, investment, trade, communications and business management.

The resources in Fujian and Taiwan are highly mutually complementary, and there is a vast room for their cooperation. For decades, the restrictive order of Taiwan authorities has contained the footsteps for cooperation and a win-win outcome between both players on both sides of the Straits.

Paces for across-Strait exchange and cooperation have turned increasingly wider, greater and faster along with vital changes having taken place in Taiwan in recent years, and new opportunities have arrived particularly with the promulgation of State Council documents in May 2009 to support Fujian to developed the economic zone west of the Taiwan Straits (i.e. "Economic Zone"). In such a situation, more and more Taiwan business people have their sights set on the Chinese mainland and come to seek opportunities that can be materialized.

How can industries on both sides of the Straits connect more directly, and the Straits Forum has provided a very useful platform to study the cross-Strait economic and trade cooperation as well as cross-Straits policies in this regard; even closer and more benign cross-Strait interaction will benefit people on the both sides of the Straits eventually.

Behind the mixed feelings of both surprise and joy evidenced at the forum, it is indeed the high evaluation and endorsement of the people across the Straits for their hard-won cross-Strait exchanges, and it is even more crucial to appreciate and understand fully their feelings and their longstanding expectations for the future.