China seeks culture agreement with Taiwan

TAIPEI, September  5, 2010 (AFP) - China's visiting culture minister said on Sunday the mainland was seeking a culture agreement with Taiwan, in a fresh sign of the warming ties between the two former rivals.

Cai Wu, the highest-ranking mainland official to visit the island in 12 years, said details of the plan have not been finalised but suggested building on a sweeping trade pact the two sides forged earlier this year.

"For instance, I'm wondering if it is possible to sign an agreement patterning after the ECFA (Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement)... it is still under discussion," Cai said during a press conference while touring Taipei's National Palace Museum.

Cai will attend a seminar in Taipei Monday, according to its organisers, the Shen Chun-chih Culture Foundation, a non-profit Taipei-based body focused on cultural exchanges with the mainland.

The visit comes after Taiwan's parliament last month approved the trade pact with China -- by far the island's most wide-ranging accord yet with the mainland.

Taiwan and China have been governed separately since a Chinese civil war ended in 1949. Beijing still considers the island as part of its territory and has vowed to take it back, by force if necessary.

But ties have improved markedly after President Ma Ying-jeou of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang party took office in Taiwan in 2008, pledging to boost trade and allow in more Chinese tourists.