The Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) on Friday sent a message to newly appointed Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) Chairman Chen Deming (陳德銘) to congratulate him on assuming office.
The former Chinese minister of commerce was appointed chairman earlier the same day in Beijing.
The foundation expressed hope for peace, stability and prosperity between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, and for the two bodies to continue efforts to promote cross-strait cooperation and exchanges, SEF Deputy Secretary-General Ma Shaw-chang (馬紹章) said.
In Beijing, the 64-year-old Chen said he hoped to hold a formal meeting with SEF Chairman Lin Join-sane (林中森) in the first half of the year to sign an agreement on trade in cross-strait services and push for the completion of merchandise trade talks between the two sides.
Deepening cross-strait economic cooperation remains the priority issue in cross-strait talks, he said while addressing the ARATS board meeting following his appointment.
He also spoke of a plan for the ARATS and the foundation to open reciprocal representative offices, adding that such facilities would not be “diplomatic consulates” because Taiwan-China relations are not categorized as “state-to-state.”
Chen also underlined the need for the two sides to sign agreements in the fields of technology, culture and education, and establish a system for cross-strait cooperation and exchanges in those fields.
At the board meeting, Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪) said he encouraged civil talks between the two sides on political issues for the sake of long-term cross-strait relations — a subject that the Taiwanese government has consistently shied away from.
Such a dialogue can gradually create conditions for cross-strait consultations on resolving political differences and add new momentum to the comprehensive development of peaceful cross-strait relations, Yang said.
The Shanghai-born Chen was the governor of Shaanxi Province from 2004 to 2006, before being appointed to China’s National Development and Reform Commission. He took over the commerce portfolio in 2007 and held the post until earlier this year.