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China's top official makes landmark visit to Taiwan

China's top official in charge of Taiwan affairs, Zhang Zhijun, has held talks with his Taiwanese counterpart on a landmark visit to the island.

TAIPEI, TAIWAN: China's top official in charge of Taiwan affairs has held talks with his Taiwanese counterpart on a landmark visit to the island.

Mr Zhang Zhijun, who is China's most senior official ever to visit Taiwan, met Taiwan's mainland affairs chief Wang Yu-chi on Wednesday.

The meeting is the pair's second. They first met when Mr Wang visited China in February.

Mr Zhang's visit has certainly marked a new chapter for cross-strait relations.

He may have been greeted by some protests from pro-independence activists, but his visit is generally welcomed by most Taiwanese.

They see his trip as a goodwill gesture from Beijing, after a mass student protest against a trade deal with the mainland.

Instead of criticising those who oppose the trade deal with harsh words, Mr Zhang said he is in Taipei to hear different voices from the ground.

He hopes to acquire different perspectives to allow Beijing to make the necessary adjustments to its Taiwan policy.

"I believe a peaceful development across the strait is the right path for our people on both sides. It benefits their needs and brings prosperity to all Chinese people," said Mr Zhang, Minister of China's Taiwan Affairs Office.

"After having exchanges with the Taiwanese people, I believe Director Zhang will have a better understanding of their lifestyle and values. So I hope Director Zhang can hear the voices of the Taiwanese people from his visit, to understand their lives and respect their choices," said Mr Wang, Minister of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Office.

The two sides have agreed to continue pushing for cross-strait development in all aspects, especially trade, tourism and cultural exchanges.

But the subject of a meeting between the leaders from the two sides did not come up in their discussion.

The two men are expected to meet again in Kaohsiung on Friday for tea.

That's where Mr Zhang will also meet Kaohsiung city mayor Chen Chu from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

This suggests that Beijing is opening up to dialogue with not just the ruling KMT but also the DPP as well.

Analysts say this will pave the way for Beijing to start political talks with Taiwan, no matter who is in power.

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