Beijing: China today said President Xi Jinping will have a rare meeting with the chairman of Taiwan’s ruling party Kuomintang here next month amid efforts by the two sides to work out a rapprochement to end decades-old rivalry due to Beijing’s territorial claims over the island.
Xi, who also heads the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), will meet Eric Chu of KMT party, a likely candidate for Taiwan’s presidency in next year’s election. Xi and Chu will exchange views on party-to-party interactions and relations across the Taiwan Strait, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a media briefing here today.
“This will be an important event in the two parties’ high-level exchanges,” he said. Leaders of the two parties will exchange views on CPC-KMT exchanges and relations, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson of the Taiwan Work Office of the CPC Central Committee said.
Chu will lead a delegation to visit Beijing after taking part in the Cross-Strait Economic, Trade and Culture Forum, scheduled to be held on May 3 in Shanghai, Ma said. Relations between the mainland and Taiwan stalled when the KMT forces, led by Chiang Kai-shek, fled to Taiwan in 1949 after defeat in a civil war.
China maintains that Taiwan is part of it and insists on one China policy with all the countries which have diplomatic relations with it. Business and personnel exchanges resumed in the late 1980s, and in the early 1990s, the two sides started to engage with each other through the mainland’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and its Taiwan counterpart, the Straits Exchange Foundation.
In a major breakthrough, the first meeting between top leaders of the two parties for six decades came when Hu Jintao, the then general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, met with the then KMT Chairman Lien Chan in Beijing in April, 2005.
In the same year, the two parties established an annual cross-Strait economic, trade and culture forum as a key communication platform between themselves, as well as between the mainland and Taiwan. Communication has picked up remarkably since 2008, when the then KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou won the island’s leadership election.
While meeting with visiting KMT Honorary Chairman Lien Chan in February 2013, Xi – who took over the party in 2012 – vowed consistency in policies towards Taiwan, saying the CPC was aiming for new achievements in cross-Strait exchanges and cooperation. In January, in a congratulatory message to Chu after he was elected the KMT chairman, Xi said he hoped the two parties can strengthen communication and deepen mutual trust. In reply, Chu said he expected the two parties will continue to expand their exchanges, strive for mutual benefit and promote peace and prosperity across the Taiwan Straits.