Zhang Zhijun, director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of China's State Council, talks with people from the Atayal tribe, a tribe of Taiwanese aborigines, in Wulai mountain areas of New Taipei City, southeast China's Taiwan, June 26, 2014. Zhang visited the mountain areas on Thursday.(Xinhua/He Junchang)
TAIPEI, June 26 (Xinhua) -- After meeting with New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu, the mainland's Taiwan affairs chief, Zhang Zhijun, told journalists, "I had a great time today," as he finally achieved his hope of visiting Taiwanese communities and learning of ordinary people's lives.
Zhang, chief of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, started his four-day visit to the island on Wednesday. He is scheduled to spend three whole days touring the island in an itinerary focused on its grass-roots.
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On Thursday morning, Zhang visited a community in Xizhi District of New Taipei City, talking with locals and mainlanders who married Taiwanese people.
Li Yu-chuan, who is in charge of the community, said after a 30-minute discussion with Zhang that Zhang is friendly and affectionate to local people.
After having lunch with seniors in a nursing house, Zhang met with Chu, exchanging views on deepening cross-Strait cooperation between cities.
"The talk was good. We discussed the changes in cross-Strait relations in 65 years, and both agreed that further development of cross-Strait relations will benefit all people from both sides," Zhang said to media after his meeting with Chu.
Zhang said that New Taipei City had already conducted close cooperation with mainland cities in many fields, including trade, agriculture, education, healthcare and environmental protection, with increasing grass-roots exchanges and communication among young people from both sides.
"I took New Taipei as the first stop so I could know more about the city and its people," the Taiwan affairs chief said.
On the last stop of Zhang's Thursday visit to Wulai District, a mountainous region, he talked with ethic minority people and promised to tell mainlanders of the area's beautiful scenery.
On Wednesday, Zhang held a formal meeting with Wang Yu-chi, Taiwan's mainland affairs chief, in Taoyuan. It was the second formal meeting between the chiefs of cross-Strait affairs.
Although protestors have tried to disturb Zhang's journey, with some even beating noisy drums and gongs near his hotel, he was unfazed and continued his visit.
Taiwanese newspapers on Thursday gave positive coverage to the event, appealing to people from all walks of life on the island to express their opinions in a rational way.
The United Daily News dedicated almost four pages to the Zhang-Wang meeting.
The newspaper said that through the meeting, mutual trust has been preliminarily established as they agreed to continue negotiation on allowing the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation to set up offices on each other's side.
China Times said that Zhang's visit to grass-roots regions symbolizes the mainland's sincerity to communicate with the island and win public support for the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations.
Buddhist master Hsing Yun, founder of Taiwan's influential Fo Guang Shan Monastery, also expressed his hope that Taiwanese will treat Zhang cordially.
"The mainland and Taiwan are of one family since history, and the relation will become closer with more visits," the master said.
Taipei mayor Hao Lung-bin said on Thursday that Zhang's effort to listen to people's voices and understand Taiwan's situations will be very helpful for boosting cross-Strait relations.
Hao is currently in Beijing for the 2014 International Tourism Expo that will open on Friday.
This is Hao's first trip to Beijing in the capacity of Taipei mayor, and his delegation will promote the city during the expo.
"Zhang and I are old friends," Hao said, adding that he hoped for a chance to see Zhang in Beijing and hear what he has to say about his Taiwan trip.
Addressing protests during Zhang's visit, Hao said, "Guests coming from far away should be treated with manners... I believe a majority of Taiwan people welcome Zhang."