XIAMEN - The Chinese mainland and Taiwan Saturday kicked off the largest-yet unofficial cross-Straits forum and carnival at a place which used to be the frontline of Communist-Kuomintang rivalry decades ago.
More than 8,000 Taiwan guests have arrived for the week-long Straits Forum, which is to feature 18 activities including a centerpiece conference, a trade fair, a cultural week, a tourism forum and a seminar on traditional Chinese medicine.
The event's main venue, Xiamen, a coastal city in southeastern Fujian Province, faces Taiwan across the sea and was the frontline of mainland-Taiwan artillery duels in the 1950s and 1960s.
Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the top political advisory body, declared the opening of the forum at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Wang Yi, director of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said the mass gathering of "brothers and sisters" from both sides of the Taiwan Straits reflected a new development of cross-Straits exchanges.
"It shows that the general public have become the main body of the cross-Straits exchanges and the core force to propel the progress of the cross-Straits relations," he said.
Chu Li-lun, vice chairman of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) Party, said people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits share the same bloodline and speak the same languages, and closer relations between the people have even made the Straits "shallower and narrower" than before.
The forum is co-hosted by Xiamen and three other cities in Fujian, Fuzhou, Quanzhou and Putian.