Taipei, June 12 (CNA) Zhang Zhijun, minister of China
's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), is scheduled to pay his first visit to Taiwan in his official capacity during the week of June 23, according to Taiwan's Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) on Thursday. MAC Minister Wang Yu-chi said the four-day trip will likely take place from May 25-28 and will take Zhang to New Taipei City in the north, Changhua County and Taichung City in central Taiwan, and Kaohsiung City in the south. However, Zhang will not visit Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, Wang said, while briefing Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng on Zhang's travel plans. Zhang will attend a religious event in Changhua before returning to China
, Wang Yu-chi added. The visit is seen as a reciprocation of Wang Yu-chi's historic four-day trip to China
in February, a source familiar with the matter said, adding that it will be arranged based on the principles of safety, equity and dignity, with the aim of improving Zhang's understanding of Taiwanese people's views and helping him avoid misjudging the situation of Taiwan. Noting that the reciprocal visit is the result of an agreement reached by the TAO and the MAC, the legislative speaker said that he will not meet with Zhang during the trip. According to the speaker, Zhang will not meet with Taiwan's central government officials, except for MAC officials. Zhang has several times expressed hopes for a visit to Taiwan in the first half of this year since he assumed the post as TAO director last year, a source of Taiwan decision-making authority said.
The source added that he had planned to visit Taiwan in mid-April, but postponed the scheduled visit after Taiwan's students launched protests against the cross-Taiwan Strait trade-in-services agreement on March 18. The protests lasted till mid-April. Warming cross-strait relations and the goodwill displayed by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party toward China have helped facilitate Zhang's planned trip to Taiwan, the source said. DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen said last week that she would be willing to meet with Zhang if no pre-conditions are set.
But there are no immediate plans for Zhang and Tsai to meet. According to a MAC official, Zhang will meet with New Taipei City's Mayor Eric Chu, Taichung's Mayor Jason Hu and Kaohsiung's Mayor Chen Chu. The Taiwan Affairs Office said that Zhang has expressed hopes for interactions with Taiwan's general public in various sectors of society to hear their views about the development of cross-strait relations. (By Scarlett Chai and Evelyn Kao)