Sun, Jul 24, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Hu congratulates Soong on victory

KUDOS The Chinese president sent a congratulatory letter to the PFP chairman after he was re-elected to the top position in an uncontested party election

CNA , TAIPEI

Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) yesterday congratulated People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) after he was re-elected as the head of the party on Friday.

Soong, who was the only candidate in the second PFP chairmanship election, won with 99.19 percent of the 36,563 ballots cast.

In his congratulatory message, Hu expressed the hope that both Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the PFP will continue to work toward promoting the development of cross-strait relations.

Hu last Sunday had also sent a message of congratulations to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on winning the election as the party chairman. Hu in that message, he also urged Ma to "join hands" with the CCP.

Chin Chin-sheng (秦金生), PFP secretary-general, expressed his appreciation on behalf of Soong -- who is on vacation in the US -- in a reciprocal letter, which was later signed by Soong.

Soong said he will continue to dedicate himself to the promotion of cross-strait peace and development as well as the promotion of exchanges and cooperation with China.

Meanwhile, to move forward with the six-point agreement reached between Soong and Hu -- who doubles as CCP's general secretary -- during their meeting in Beijing May 12, the PFP is planning to co-sponsor an economic forum in Shanghai, party officials said yesterday.

They said scholars from both sides of the Taiwan Strait as well as neighboring countries will be invited to attend the forum to discuss issues, including cross-strait free trade zones, prospects for the Asian economic integration and regional cooperation.

If all goes well, Soong could visit China again in September and meet with Chinese leaders. Soong traveled to China in early May on what he called a "bridge-building journey."

China could also send "very high ranking" officials to attend the forum, Soong's aides said.

After Soong's visit to China in May, the PFP decided to form a cross-strait task force to promote cross-strait relations and exchanges, with PFP Vice Chairman Chang Chao-hsiung (張昭雄) serving as convener. There are 13 teams under the task force, and a party agricultural team has visited China several times to promote Taiwanese fruit exports to China.

The aides said that they don't intend to compete with a cross-strait forum planned by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which is scheduled to take place in Taipei in August, saying that the timing and the theme of the two forums will be different.

They said that initial planning calls for the forum to be made up of business elite will focus on cross-strait financial and regional economic integration.

Soong could stay in Shanghai for a longer time and there will be no other visits, party officials said. To promote channels of communication between the PFP and the CCP, the party could also send a delegation to visit Beijing again to exchange views with Chinese leaders.

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