BEIJING, March 25 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese mainland is willing to enter talks on a trade pact with Taiwan in order to help the island through the economic downturn, a mainland spokeswoman said Wednesday.
"The mainland is willing to push forward such an agreement as long as it can benefit the peaceful development of cross-Strait ties, the well-being of people on both sides, and can help Taiwan's economy tide over the challenges it faces," said Fan Liqing, of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office.
Asked by a Xinhua reporter at a press conference if the two sides would discuss a trade pact in their meetings in the first half of the year, Fan replied, "The Chinese mainland and Taiwan have not yet begun talks on a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement, not even at an unofficial level."
However, the mainland would actively promote an agreement that benefited economies on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, she said.
The two sides would hold talks on joint efforts in fighting crime, financial cooperation and regular cross-Strait flights in the first half of this year, said Fan.
A survey conducted by Taiwan authorities last week found more than 50 percent of the 1,083 people polled supported the authorities talking with the mainland on signing an economic cooperation pact. More than 48 percent said such a pact would be "beneficial" for the island's future.