|Forum aids cross-Straits cooperation
By Zhang Yi in Xiamen, Fujian
Top political adviser looks beyond setbacks to \'peaceful development\'
China\'s top political adviser Yu Zhengsheng has stressed the mainland\'s commitment to promoting people-to-people exchanges as well as economic and social development across the Taiwan Straits despite setbacks during the past year.
\"The peaceful development of cross-Straits relations is facing new risks and challenges after being severely undermined last year. However, the communications between the two sides have reached a new historical level,\" said Yu, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People\'s Political Consultative Conference at the Ninth Straits Forum held in Xiamen, Fujian province, on Sunday.
He said the Chinese mainland\'s determination to make efforts that would benefit people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits remains unchanged.
More than 20 policies and arrangements rolled out recently to facilitate education and employment of Taiwan residents in mainland cities, including improved financial and social security services.
The mainland and Taiwan have achieved peaceful and sound development of their relationship since 2008 based on sticking to the 1992 Consensus and opposing \"Taiwan independence\". But the relationship changed on May 20 last year when the Democratic Progressive Party denied the 1992 Consensus.
Yu said \"Taiwan independence\" is the biggest threat to peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits. It will damage the fundamental interests of the people of both sides.
Yu called on residents across the straits to resolutely oppose any activity that splits the country, emphasizing that adherence to the political foundation of the 1992 Consensus, which embodies the one-China policy, and peaceful development of cross-Straits relations are required for further integration.
Hung Hsiu-chu, chairwoman of the Taiwan-based Kuomintang political party, also made a speech at the forum, saying that peace and cooperation across the straits are unswerving goals for Chinese people and the dream of rejuvenating the Chinese nation will not be forgotten.
The Ninth Straits Forum, the largest platform for people-to-people exchanges between the two sides, kicked off in East China\'s Fujian province on Saturday and will last a week. Composed of 21 major events, it focuses on youth exchanges and grassroots communications, as well as economic and trade communications. More than 8,000 delegates from Taiwan are expected to take part in the forum.
This is the 30th year since the two sides began people-to-people exchanges.
Last year, Taiwan residents made 5.7 million visits to the mainland, according to the State Council\'s Taiwan Affairs Office.
Yin Cunyi, a professor at the Institute of Taiwan Studies of Tsinghua University, said the political relations between the two sides are nearly \"frozen\". \"In contrast, the exchanges between the two peoples have increased,\" he added.
Hsu Jung-hsiao, 76, a retiree from Taiwan who attended the forum, said he saw more participants from Taiwan at the forum compared with last year\'s and more programs are available this year.
\"I\'ve visited my hometown in Yancheng, Jiangsu province, every year in the past decade. My two sons are working in the mainland now because its economic development is more promising,\" he said.
\"I don\'t have a shred of doubt in the peaceful reunification of the two sides eventually despite recent setbacks. This is destined because of the demand of exchanges between the two peoples,\" he added.