Wed, Feb 22, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Beijing mayor’s visit linked to culture

Staff Writer, with CNA

Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong, center, prepares to fly back to Beijing from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport yesterday after wrapping up a six-day visit to Taiwan.

Photo: CNA

Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong’s (郭金龍) recent visit to Taipei indicates Taiwan and China are using cultural exchanges as the next step in building more stable relations across the Taiwan Strait, academics said prior to Guo’s departure yesterday.

No Chinese provincial delegation visited Taiwan in the six months prior to the Jan. 14 presidential election because of political concerns, but the visits have since resumed and academics believed Guo’s trip had special significance.

“Guo’s visit indicates that interactions between the two sides are moving from economic dynamics to cultural ones and beyond,” Straits Academic and Cultural Exchange Association vice president Pan Hsi-tang (潘錫堂) said.

Guo, who led a delegation of more than 100 people, was the first mayor of Beijing to visit Taiwan. The aim of his six-day trip was to promote cultural exchanges.

The visit and the recent completion of a Chinese-language database jointly compiled by Taiwanese and Chinese academics indicate a shift in focus to cultural aspects and an attempt by the two sides to seek new possibilities in understanding each other, Pan said.

Other academics said Guo’s visit could be seen as a friendly gesture from the Chinese government, which is trying to create favorable conditions for negotiations on a political agenda after the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) in 2010.

Chang Wu-yueh (張五岳), director of Tamkang University’s Graduate Institute of China Studies, said Beijing is trying to reset the tone of cross-strait relations after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was re-elected last month.

Addressing Chinese President Hu Jintao’s (胡錦濤) “six points” speech in 2008 — regarded as the guideline for China’s Taiwan policy — Chang said Beijing seems to be preparing for the next stage of negotiations, which would be more politically oriented. In Hu’s speech, the promotion of Chinese culture was considered the third task in cross-strait relations, coming after the establishment of political trust and economic cooperation.

“Beijing could be moving forward in anticipation of more stable and predictable Taiwan-China relations during Ma’s second term,” Chang said.

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