This article was first published in The Straits Times on April 21, 1993
Senior officials of the two civic groups from China and Taiwan are starting preliminary discussions today to pave the way for their meeting here next week.
This is the first non-government level talk held in a third country to improve ties between their people.
The deputy secretary-general of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), Mr Lee Ching-ping, told reporters yesterday that he was scheduled to meet his
Chinese counterpart, Mr Qiao Feng, deputy head of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (Arats), and other Chinese officials tonight.
Mr Lee arrived here on Monday with an advance party of six officials.
The First Secretary at the Chinese Embassy here, Mr Zhou Xinpei, yesterday confirmed that Mr Qiao and another official from Arats, Mr Xu Zhiqin, would arrive only later today for the preparatory talks.
Meanwhile, Mr Lee and his team yesterday visited the NOL Building, the site proposed by the Singapore Government for the historical two-day meeting between the chairman of Arats, Mr Wang Daohan, and SEF's chief, Mr Koo Chen-fu, which will start on April 27.
He said the convention centre at the NOL Building was a suitable site but it might not have the capacity for an expected turn-out of about 200 journalists from Taiwan, China and other countries covering the pact-signing ceremony at the end of the talks.
"Anyway, we must seek the agreement of the Chinese on the site before making a decision," he added.
SEF's secretary-general Cheyne Chiu and Arats' vice-chairman Tang Shubei who arrive tomorrow will meet over the coming weekend in the second round of the preparatory discussions.
The Wang-Koo talks, which will be "technical and functional" in nature, will deal mainly with civilian, administrative and economic matters.
The agenda includes the setting-up of regular and systematic communication channels, cracking down on illegal activities, encouraging cultural exchange and economic cooperation between the peoples of both territories.
Two agreements, the "Authentication of Documents" and "Verification and Compensation of Lost Registered Mail" are expected to be signed between the two parties.
An SEF statement yesterday said Singapore was chosen as the venue for the talks because it believed that a fair and a balanced reporting of the event could be best achieved in a neutral country such as Singapore.
It also hoped that Arats would take part in the talks with sincerity and goodwill and seize the opportunity to jointly define the procedures for future contacts.
The Taiwanese delegates are staying at Westin Plaza while the Chinese are expected at the Regent Hotel.