Sat, May 23, 2009
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Mainland puts energy into aiding World Games

2009-05-23 08:12:29 GMT2009-05-23 16:12:29 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

Liu Peng(R), director-general of the mainland's General Administration of Sport, meets with the visiting Kaohsiung mayor, Chen Chu, on Friday in Beijing. [CFP]

The mainland plans to send its largest-ever sports delegation to the World Games when they are held in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, in July.

The Games will be the biggest international sporting event to take place on the island.

Liu Peng, director-general of the mainland's General Administration of Sport, said the mainland was keen to support the 2009 World Games.

He made the announcement while meeting with the visiting Kaohsiung mayor, Chen Chu, on Friday in Beijing.

Commentators said the move showed mainland's "goodwill" toward Taiwan and suggested it would facilitate an increase in exchanges across the Straits.

The mainland will send more than 100 athletes to Kaohsiung for the Games and dispatch another delegation to watch the spectacle, said Liu.

The mainland has attended the World Games four times.

"We hope our participation at the Kaohsiung World Games will deepen the kindred feelings between people across the Straits," he said.

Safety concerns topped Liu's half-hour meeting with Chen because Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan has been seen as a city with a considerable number of people who are unfriendly toward the mainland.

Taiwan athletes attended the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and received a warm welcome from mainland people, said Liu.

Chen promised "zero interference and provocative actions" from her city, and "impeccable security measures" for the athletes.

"The Kaohsiung people are set to embrace the athletes with outmost passion," Chen said.

The World Games is an international competition featuring non-Olympic sports such as dragon boat racing. It is scheduled to run between July 16 and 26 in Taiwan's second largest city.

Liu, who had been executive president of the Organizing Committee for the Beijing Olympics, also briefed Chen on the mainland's experience in holding the Olympics.

Chen is a key figure in the island's major opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

She was one of the highest-ranking incumbent officials from the DPP to have set foot on the mainland when she kicked off her mainland visit on May 21.

During her four-day visit, Chen met Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong and visited Olympic venues. She was set to meet Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng Saturday.

Chen invited mainland sports officials, athletes and the public to attend the World Games and tour Kaohsiung throughout the last leg of her global tour to promote the 2009 World Games.

Wang Yizhou, a world politics expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the unprecedented delegation is a milestone of cross-Straits sports exchanges that expanded dramatically at the Beijing Olympics.

Wang Yusheng, a scholar with the China Foundation for International Studies, said the move was a "good signal" in exchanges between the mainland and Taiwan, which have seen momentum build recently with mainland tourists visiting Taiwan and mainland firms spending money there.

As for the political impact of Chen's visit, a survey on Singtao.com, a Hong Kong-based website featuring Chinese news, showed more than 73 percent saw Chen's visit as an "ice-breaking point" in relations between the DPP and the mainland.

Taiwan's China Times newspaper predicted Friday more DPP leaders will follow.

The party should show "wisdom and courage" by continuing rational dialogue with Beijing to keep pace with the times, it said.

In Taipei, the Kuomintang party spokesman Lee Chien-jung said this week that the party takes a positive view of Chen's visit and believes it will contribute to the development of cross-Straits ties in a peaceful direction and to the integration of opinions of Taiwan's two major political camps.

Meanwhile, a 1,500-strong delegation from Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region has arrived in Taiwan on Thursday with $170 million to spend.

This is the largest ever provincial-level delegation from the mainland to the island. Led by provincial leaders, the group includes leaders from all cities in the region.

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