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Taiwan, China in new round of trade talks

TAICHUNG, Taiwan, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- China and Taiwan, in a sign of improving ties, opened a new round of talks Tuesday in the island nation on free trade and other cross straits issues.

The two sides, meeting in Taiwan's third largest city, Taichung, were represented by their respective groups responsible for cross straits relations -- China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation.

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The latest round of talks is the fourth since the two sides resumed negotiations in June 2008 after a 10-year suspension during which Taiwan was led by a government that had sought independence. Relations have improved since Ma Ying-jeou became Taiwan's president.

The two countries have had separate governments for six decades but Communist China has never relinquished its sovereign claims over Taiwan.

China's state run Xinhua news agency reported the three main issues at the current round would be labor cooperation in the fishing industry, inspection and quarantine of agricultural products and standard measuring, inspection and certification. The two sides also reached basic consensus on avoiding double taxation.

China's ARATS President Chen Yunlin said both sides will "exchange ideas on the principle" of an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) during the current round, Taiwan's Central News Agency reported.

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Taiwan's SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung said the two sides need to strengthen further their economic and trade cooperation, Xinhua reported.

Taiwanese opposed to moving closer to China protested both at the airport and the hotel where the Chinese delegation is staying.

Commenting on the protests, Chinese delegation leader Chen Yunlin said, "We fully respect the different opinions expressed by our countrymen," Taipei Times reported.

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