Zhang Zhijun (R), head of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, shakes hands with Wang Yu-chi, Taiwan's mainland affairs chief, before their formal meeting, in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, Feb. 11, 2014. The Chinese mainland and Taiwan's chief officials in charge of cross-Strait affairs met here on Feb. 11 afternoon for the first time since 1949. (Xinhua/Shen Bohan)
NANJING, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- The chief officials on cross-Strait affairs from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan met formally for the first time since 1949 on Tuesday afternoon.
Zhang Zhijun, head of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, held a formal meeting with Wang Yu-chi, Taiwan's mainland affairs chief, who arrived in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, on Tuesday morning as part of a four-day visit.
The two sides aim to open a regular communication channel between their cross-Strait affairs departments, Zhang said in an opening speech at the meeting.
The communication channel is a result of deepening mutual political trust on the basis of adhering to the "1992 consensus," he said.
"I believe, with this arrangement, the two sides will improve exchanges, understanding and mutual trust, and better handle outstanding problems in cross-Strait exchanges," he said.
Exchanges between the mainland and Taiwan had stalled since the Kuomintang, led by Chiang Kai-shek, fled to Taiwan in 1949 after being defeated in a civil war.
Business and personnel exchanges resumed in the late 1980s, and in the early 1990s the two sides started to engage with each other through the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), and its Taiwan counterpart, the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF).
ARATS and SEF are non-governmental organizations founded in 1991 and 1990 respectively.
ARATS-SEF talks have sped up since 2008 and produced a number of important cross-Strait agreements, including an agreement to lift the ban on direct shipping, air transport and postal services in 2008 and the long-awaited Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement in 2010.
The meeting between Zhang and Wang, the sitting cross-Strait affairs chiefs from the two sides, is considered an important breakthrough in promoting cross-Strait relations and may lead to regular exchanges of visits in the future.
Zhang and Wang first met informally on the sidelines of the informal economic leaders' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Bali, Indonesia last October, and they agreed to hold mutual visits.
"We meet under great attention and expectations and bear great responsibilities," Zhang said.
He said he believed the two sides are heading in a straightforward direction and will not take long to fulfill their purposes.
Cross-Strait relations have survived through ups and downs in the past 65 years and have evolved from military and political confrontation in earlier years to their historic turn toward peaceful development in 2008, Zhang said.
"Today's cross-Strait situation has been hard-earned through efforts of generations. We should cherish it and work together to maintain this favorable momentum," Zhang said. "We should be determined to avoid any further fluctuations and setbacks."