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October 13, 2013

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Military contacts to be considered as cross-Strait peace forum ends

Participants at the first cross-Strait peace forum have suggested the two sides create conditions for meetings between leaders, engage in military exchanges, set up a coordination mechanism for external affairs, and enhance maritime cooperation.

The mainland and Taiwan should actively foster conditions for meetings between leaders across the Taiwan Strait and make arrangements for the form and content of such occasions, according to forum minutes announced at the closing ceremony in Shanghai yesterday.

Participants agreed the two sides should consider conducting military contacts and exchanges to promote stability in the Strait and alleviate worries over military security.

Such exchanges could start with cooperation in humanitarian aid and disaster response, exploring the possibility of signing maritime security agreements, and holding seminars, they suggested.

To cope with mutual challenges, authorities should cooperate in maritime affairs such as conservation of maritime living resources, protection of fishery, fishermen and the maritime eco-environment, safeguarding maritime transport security, emergency rescue, joint development of energy and tourism, scientific research, law enforcement and maritime security, the document said.

Participants also suggested the two sides gradually set up a communication and coordination mechanism for external affairs so as to properly handle cases in which non-governmental institutions or individuals across the Strait plan to participate in the same non-governmental or civil international events at the same time.

In addition, the two sides should enhance coordination and cooperation in external economic affairs to work toward common interests, the document said.

The mainland and Taiwan should jointly explore and gradually form understanding or consensus on their political relations so as to establish a stable framework for cross-Strait peaceful development, it added.

Despite the consensus reached among academics from both sides, their views differ on particular issues.

These include how to make reasonable arrangements for cross-Strait political relations in the context of continued political confrontation; how to clarify the legal relationship between the one-China framework and the existing rules of the two sides; the political meaning of an official end to the state of hostility between the two sides; and how to establish a mechanism to build confidence in military security across the Strait.

The second cross-Strait peace forum is scheduled to be held in Taiwan next year. Organizers will discuss the possibility of establishing a permanent institution.

Organized by the mainland-based National Society of Taiwan Studies and Taiwan’s 21st Century Foundation and 12 other major think-tanks and academic institutions from both sides, the two-day event was attended by about 120 experts and academics.


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