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Chinese minister meets Kaohsiung mayor
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-06-27 03:55 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Recent comments by China’s Taiwan Affairs Office were unacceptable to both the ruling camp and the opposition in Taiwan, Kaohsiung City Mayor Chen Chu told visiting Chinese minister Zhang Zhijun Friday.

Chen was the only senior member of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party the head of the TAO would meet during his groundbreaking four-day visit to Taiwan.

The mayor was referring to a recent statement by a TAO spokeswoman in Beijing that the future of Taiwan would have to be decided by “all the people of China,” a comment which infuriated public opinion on the island and let to government and opposition leaders reaffirm the position that only the 23 million citizens of Taiwan could decide the country’s future.

Zhang met Chen at the Kaohsiung Arena Friday morning for half an hour of talks. He reportedly told her that Chinese leaders knew how much Taiwanese people valued the social system and lifestyle they had chosen. When reporters asked the mayor whether that meant the TAO had adjusted its stance after its spokeswoman’s comments, Chen replied that Zhang had given no further explanations and that they had not broached the subject again.

She asked for respect and understanding from the Chinese government for the variety of opinions prevalent in Taiwanese society and for the right of critics to protest. The mayor described the occurrence of protests and the expression of diverging opinions as typical for Taiwan society. Listening to and understanding those voices would be beneficial to the stable development of cross-straits relations, Chen said.

She told reporters she had not discussed her statements during the meeting with Zhang with DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen beforehand.

The mayor also mentioned city-related topics during her talks with the Chinese minister, she said. The subjects included a request for more flights between Kaohsiung and Chinese cities and the expansion of a joint market for cruise travel. Chen complained about the fact that farmers and fishermen made too little money out of their sales of products bound for China, with intermediaries pocketing most of the profits.

The prominent DPP member said her conversation with the Chinese minister had included concern for Taiwan and the difficult progress of Taiwan’s democratic movement.

Chen and Zhang met for the first time last August when the mayor visited the Chinese city of Tianjin to promote an international conference of mayors in her harbor town. On Friday, she thanked the minister for his assistance in finding guests for the meeting, reports said.

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