Wu Den-yih, left, met Li Keqiang at the Boao Forum in Hainan, April 1. (Photo/Xinhua)
The meeting between Taiwan’s vice president-elect, Wu Den-yih, and the Chinese vice premier, Li Keqiang, in China earlier this week helped break new ground in the peaceful development of bilateral relations.
Wu’s proposal of building mutual trust and calls to China to broaden Taiwan’s participation in the international arena were met with a positive response from Li, a sign that the two countries’ future leaders have built rapprochement in their continual pursuit of cross-strait peace.
At a meeting with Li at the Boao Forum for Asia in southern China’s Hainan province on April 1, Wu floated four guidelines for future cross-strait exchanges — seeking common ground while shelving differences, maintaining cross-strait peace, honoring promises while promoting harmony, and prioritizing people’s livelihoods.
The idea of honoring promises while promoting harmony has particular significance as Taiwan and China’s trade negotiations have advanced to a deeper level, the success of which calls for solid mutual trust.
Taiwan is set to begin negotiations with China on the remaining parts of the economic cooperation framework agreement, which, among other things, protects Taiwanese businesspeople operating in China and proposes a mechanism for currency settlement. These measures were stalled due to conflicts of interests and a lack of consensus.
Wu also voiced the Taiwanese people’s strong desire to engage with the world, including bids by the country to enter the International Civil Aviation Organization and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. He called for China to hear the voices of the island’s people.
Beijing has long sought to suppress Taiwan’s international influence, and Wu’s calls are timely because peaceful ties should be accompanied by greater participation in international affairs.
In the meantime, Wu stressed that "addressing economic issues before political issues, the easy before the difficult" would help set the tone of Taiwan-China exchanges and avoid fueling political disputes in Taiwan.
In the absence of a consensus on cross-strait engagement among Taiwan’s ruling and opposition parties, any proposals of a new approach to the sensitive issue could cause a war of words.
The latest example is the controversy surrounding the "one country, two areas" concept floated by Wu Poh-hsiung, an official with Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang, in a meeting with China’s president, Hu Jintao, last month, which the opposition lambasted as a challenge to Taiwan’s sovereignty.
Nevertheless, Wu Den-yih clarified Taiwan’s stance by calling for mutual trust and putting economic negotiations before political ones. This stance is expected to be the basis of the next stage of exchanges.

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