XIAMEN, Fujian, June 11 (Xinhua) -- An unofficial forum that targets the grassroots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait for closer exchanges in various areas was opened Saturday evening in Xiamen, a coastal boomtown facing Taiwan.
China's top political advisor Jia Qinglin announced the opening of the forum ahead of a grand gala that was attended by more than 8,000 participants, about 6,000 of whom are from Taiwan.
The opening ceremony was also attended by Wang Yi, director of State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, and Tseng Yung-chuan, vice chairman of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) Party.
"The Strait Forum is a common platform forged by the compatriots from both sides of the Strait, and it is also a forum for ordinary people on both sides to participate equally," Wang said while addressing the opening ceremony.
"At this forum, everyone is equal as both participants and owners," Wang said.
He called on people from both sides of the Strait to work hard to build a relationship that caters to the demand of the people and follow the historical tide.
Tseng said the relationship between the mainland and Taiwan has entered the course of peaceful development.
"It is a new era of great cooperation, grand development and mass exchange," Tseng said.
"It is the high time that people from both sides of the Strait actively carry on civilian exchanges," he added.
The event, now in its third year since its inauguration in 2009, will feature an array of activities including a centerpiece conference and other sub-forums and seminars that focus on grassroots exchanges across the Taiwan Strait and topics concerning people's livelihood.