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Mainland won't suspend official visits to Taiwan

  The Chinese mainland will not suspend official visits to Taiwan because of protests held during Chen Yunlin's recent trip to the island.

  On the contrary, cross-Straits exchanges will be further intensified, and will not be sabotaged by "a small number of people," State Council Taiwan Affairs Office Spokeswoman Fan Liqing said at a press briefing in Beijing on Wednesday.

  She described the protests, staged by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Taiwan's major opposition party, as "irrational behaviors."

  "We hope this won't bring negative impacts on cross-Straits civilian exchanges and mainland tourists travels to Taiwan," Fan said.

  The Nov. 3-7 visit by Chen, president of the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), marked the first ever talks on the island between leaders of the ARATS and its Taiwan counterpart, the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF).

  Set up in 1991 and 1990 respectively, the ARATS and the SEF were two non-governmental organizations authorized by the mainland and Taiwan to handle cross-Straits issues.

  Despite disruption caused by the violent protests, Fan said the historic visit had achieved "satisfying and positive" results, which will inject new vigor into the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations.

  The agreements signed during the visit included direct shipping and flights, as well as postal services across the Taiwan Straits.

  "This will bring tangible benefits to the people on both sides," Fan said.

  The agreement on food safety will also enable better sharing of information to benefit consumers and cross-Straits trade of food products, she said.

  The two sides also discussed business and financial cooperation in order to cope with the global financial crisis, as well as measures to encourage more mainland tourists to Taiwan.

  The work for the mainland to donate a pair of giant pandas to Taiwan, which had been delayed for three years, was also finalized during the visit.

  Fan said the ARATS and the SEF had agreed to hold talks next year on various fields, such as financial cooperation, joint combat against crime, labor cooperation in the fishing industry, investment protection, quarantine cooperation, protection of intellectual property rights and news coverage.

  (Xinhua News Agency November 12, 2008)