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/TAIPEI, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- Chiefs of 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 (SCTAO), 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.
At their meeting, the two agreed to open a regular communication channel between their departments, the result of deepening mutual political trust on the basis of the 1992 consensus, said Zhang.
"I believe, with this arrangement, we will improve exchanges, understanding and mutual trust, and better handle outstanding problems in cross-Strait exchanges," he said.
When explaining the mechanism, Wang told a press conference after the meeting that senior officials of the two departments could "just pick up their mobile phones and talk" instead of setting up a special hot line.
Zhang also accepted Wang's invitation to visit Taiwan.
The mechanism will not replace talks between the mainland Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and its Taiwan counterpart the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), which focus on detailed affairs and cross-Strait agreements. Nor will not change the way other departments contact each other.
Zhang Nianchi, director of the Shanghai Institute for East Asian Studies, told Xinhua that the arrangement is in line with the One China principle and will play a different role from the ARATS-SEF talks.
"They will not collide with each other. The cross-Strait affairs departments talk about bigger and more general topics," Zhang said. "At this meeting, they will talk about the most urgent cross-Strait issues."
Liu Xiangping, deputy head of the Institute of Taiwan Studies at Nanjing University, said that the new arrangement should help the ARATS-SEF talks be more effective.
Wu-ueh Chang, professor with the graduate institute of China studies at Taiwan's Tamkang University, told Xinhua that it was a good prelude to tackling political issues and perhaps to meetings between senior leaders.
"We can not expect too many achievements in one night. They will have to work harder on many issues," he said.