Chen Chu and Zhang Zhijun shake hands in Kaohsiung, June 27. (Photo/CNA)
The head of Taiwan's largest opposition party said Friday that a meeting between the mayor of Taiwan's second most populous city and China's Taiwan affairs chief is an important first step toward a more extensive mutual understanding across the Taiwan Strait.
"I hope the two sides of the strait will have more friendly interactions covering all political parties and social classes that are not subject to any political preconditions in the future," Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen said in a Facebook post.
Tsai posted the comments as Zhang Zhijun, minister of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, traveled to Kaohsiung by high-speed rail Friday morning to meet with the city's mayor Chen Chu, a senior DPP figure.
Zhang, who arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday, first met Chen when the mayor visited Tianjin in late August to promote the 2013 Asia Pacific Cities Summit in her city — a move seen as an easing of Beijing's no-contact policy toward the independence-leaning DPP.
Tsai said that when engaging with mainland China, the government and political parties in Taiwan should uphold Taiwan's sovereignty and the will of the Taiwanese people to be the masters of their own destiny.
"Taiwan's future will of course be decided jointly by its 23 million people. This is a consensus of Taiwanese society and is our firm position on the sovereignty issue," she added, an apparent response to remarks earlier in the month by Taiwan Affairs Office spokeswoman Fan Liqing that the future of Taiwan "must be decided by all Chinese people, including Taiwanese compatriots."
Tsai urged Zhang to listen to the voices of the Taiwanese people during his stay in Taiwan and try to understand the reasons behind ongoing protests by various groups that have followed him around the island.