Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), the former chairman of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport yesterday at the beginning of a week-long personal visit at the invitation of former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and the Cross-Strait Peace Development Foundation.
Chen stepped down from the ARATS post on April 26, though he still works as a consultant for the association.
He told reporters at the airport yesterday that the most important thing he had to do once he had left his ARATS position was to visit his friends in Taiwan and thank them for contributing to the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.
Though Chen is now a civilian, the National Immigration Agency, the airport police and the airport administration deployed personnel to ensure his smooth arrival.
He said he had three main priorities for his visit, the first of which was to visit all his “dear” and “old” friends.
During his 30 years as a civil servant, more than two-thirds of his career had involved Taiwan and the people living here, he said.
“It has given rise to many deep bonds of friendship,” Chen said, adding that he wished to extend his most sincere thanks to those friends who contributed so much to the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.
His second priority was to personally extend his gratitude to the staff of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) for their assistance, as well as former foundation chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤). He also wanted to inform them about new personnel at ARATS.
If it were not for the hard work of the staff at ARATS and the foundation, the eight meetings, 18 accords and many consensuses agreed over the course of the past five years would not have been possible, he said.
Chen said that his third priority was to exchange opinions with the foundation on matters of economic and cultural interaction.
Additional reporting by CNA