SHANGHAI, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- The first cross-Strait peace forum, an important platform for non-official political dialogue between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, opened here on Friday to rally political wisdom and expand consensus.
Addressing the opening ceremony, mainland Taiwan affairs chief Zhang Zhijun said, "Though some political differences can be shelved temporarily, it is impossible to avoid them totally or for a long time."
While acclaiming the achievements made during the past five years in cross-Strait relations, Zhang said, "The path will not be flat and straight when we forge ahead as there will be various obstacles to be cleared away and many bottle-neck problems that need to be cracked."
"It is unrealistic and impossible to deal only with economic issues while ignoring political ones," added Zhang, director of the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.
Upholding the principle that the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China is the common political foundation to ensure peaceful development of cross-Strait relations and solve cross-Strait political differences, he said.
No matter how big the cross-Strait political differences are, the one-China framework should never be allowed to waver or be harmed; "this is the bottom line that should not be loosened," he said.
While continuing the progressive method of tackling easy things first and difficult things later to promote development of cross-Strait ties step by step, "more efforts are needed to make breakthrough in prominent problems which hinder further development of cross-Strait ties," he said.
Zhang called the peace forum a "breakthrough in overcoming difficulties" and a creative move.
"It is conducive for experts and scholars to exchange ideas first under the condition that the two sides across the Taiwan Strait have not launched political negotiations," according to the senior official.
Cheng Siwei, president of the National Society of Taiwan Studies, the event's mainland organizer, said during the opening ceremony that holding such large-scale and professional political dialogue is significant and represents a new starting point in the development of cross-Strait relations.
Though the forum is only a platform of non-official political dialogues, it can help to deepen understanding and mutual trust, defuse suspicion, promote development of cross-Strait ties, and accumulate experiences and create conditions for launching formal cross-Strait political negotiations in the future, he said.
While current cross-Strait forums mainly focus on economic, cultural and social issues, the peace forum's agenda includes complicated and sensitive cross-Strait issues involving political relations, external affairs, military security and the peace framework.
During the two-day event, participants are expected to discuss matters such as cross-Strait political status, the one-China framework, reasonable arrangements for cross-Strait political relations, and interaction rules for non-government institutions in external affairs.
They will also exchange views on the meaning and content of a peace agreement and ways to carry it out, a military security confidence-building mechanism, and cooperation in maritime security and non-traditional security fields.
Organized by the mainland-based National Society of Taiwan Studies and Taiwan's 21st Century Foundation, and co-organized by 12 other major think tanks from both sides, the two-day event will be attended by about 120 experts and scholars, with about 60 from each side.