Ex-KMT vice-neon paper wristbandschairman remembered as positive force

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The former vice-chairman of the Kuomintang, Chiang Pin-kung, who died in Taipei on Monday, was a contributor to cross-Straits relations in helping Taiwan people conduct business on the mainland, experts said.

Born in 1932, Chiang was elected as vice-chairman of the KMT in 2003. He also served as the former chairman of the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation and former vice-president of the Taiwan-based Council of the Summit for Business People Across the Taiwan Straits. Founded in 1990, the SEF is authorized to handle cross-Straits affairs on the island. The mainland counterpart is the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), which was founded in 1991.

Having majored in economics at school, Chiang earned his doctorate in agricultural economics at Tokyo University in 1971. He then worked in the island"s economics and trade departments.

In 2005, Chiang was a member of the delegation led by then-KMT chairman Lien Chan to visit the mainland, where Lien met Hu Jintao, who was general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China at the time. It was the first meeting of the leaders of the two parties since 1949, breaking the ice that had existed for half a century.

Chiang had been sent to the mainland in advance to arrange the itinerary.

"Mr Chiang has made rich and abundant contributions to cross-Straits relations. He participated in many milestone events, such as the ice-breaking meeting in 2005," said Wang Hailiang, a Taiwan studies researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

"As an economist, Chiang did practical work to help Taiwan businesspeople work and live on the mainland," he said. "He was not a political figure but did much practical work."

Chiang led a KMT delegation to the mainland in March 2005, and in June 2008 he led an SEF delegation to hold talks with ARATS on the mainland.

Heads of ARATS and the SEF conducted eight rounds of talks and signed 18 agreements to develop cross-Straits relations when Chiang served as SEF chairman.

He resigned from the post of SEF chairman in September 2012.

Xinhua contributed to this story.