TAIPEI, CNA

TAIPEI — China’s top negotiator with Taiwan met Sunday in Tainan with Dharma Master Cheng Yen (���Y�k�v), founder of the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, to explore collaborative opportunities in cross-Taiwan Strait volunteer endeavors.

The meeting between Chen Deming (���w��), who serves as president of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and Cheng Yen lasted for about 40 minutes and took place at the Buddhist organization’s Tainan chapter headquarters.

After the meeting, Chen commended Tzu Chi for its tremendous contributions to charity and disaster relief efforts, adding that he gained valuable insight into how China might promote volunteerism, in particular among the country’s youth.

Tzu Chi noted that Chen had hoped to meet with Cheng Yen last Thursday during a visit to the organization’s main compound in Hualien, eastern Taiwan. The meeting, however, did not occur as Cheng Yen had other engagements.

Undeterred, Chen arranged to meet with Cheng Yen in Tainan while on his way back to Taipei following a tour of eastern and southern Taiwan, during which he visited a pig farm in Pingtung County.

A group of protesters led by opposition Taiwan Solidarity Union lawmaker Chen Chung-hui attempted to disrupt the meeting in Tainan, but were dispersed by local police.

Upon his arrival in Taipei from Tainan via the Taiwan High Speed Rail, Chen visited a care home for the elderly in Yangmingshan, suburban Taipei.

He had earlier noted that as China’s elderly population approaches 200 million; development of the elderly care industry has been rising in importance. His first stops in Taiwan included stops at the Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and at the Chang Gung Health and Culture Village in Taoyuan.

Chen is also expected to take part in at an upcoming business summit in Taipei next Monday and Tuesday aimed at deepening bilateral economic cooperation between Taiwan and China.