18th Party Congress
The Chinese Communist Party's 18th Congress, held in Beijing November 8-14, 2012, marked a key power transition in China. A new generation of leaders, headed by Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, took over from the previous leadership headed by Hu Jintao. The Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee was reduced in number from nine to seven. Unlike his predecessor Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao handed over both the Party General Secretary and Chairman of the Central Military Commission positions to Xi.
Beijing expected to keep same policy towards Taipei
After Hu call for 'cross-strait political relations', top minister tries to dispel Taiwanese anxiety
Beijing said its policy toward Taipei would not change any time soon, despite outgoing general secretary Hu Jintao's call for "cross-strait political relations" in his report to the party congress last week.
Ye Kedong, deputy director of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, told Taiwanese media that Beijing would for the next five to 10 years stick to its policy of seeking economic and cultural exchanges while setting aside stickier matters.
Ye said the Communist Party's commitment to a peaceful development of cross-strait ties would not change, even after Hu hands control of the party to Vice-President Xi Jinping on Thursday.
"We will continue to stick to the set path of tackling the easily resolved issues before the difficult ones in dealing with cross-strait relations," Ye was quoted as by Taiwanese media as saying on Monday night.
The message appeared aimed at easing anxiety on Taiwan, as Ye told the reporters that mainland leaders had taken note of reaction by Taiwan commentators and experts to Hu's report on cross-strait relations at the opening of the party's 18th congress.
In it, Hu called for Beijing and Taipei to explore cross-strait political relations and make reasonable arrangements for them under the special condition that the two sides are yet to be reunified.
He went on to suggest that the two sides discuss setting up a mechanism to improve military ties and ensure stability. He also advocated a consultative peace process to advance the growth of cross-strait relations.
Hu's remarks were widely seen, both in Taiwan and on the mainland, as an indication that Beijing's next leaders would begin a gradual push for greater political dialogues with Taipei, which it regards as a breakaway province.
Hu's remarks triggered jitters in Taiwan, with the pro-independence camp warning that the authoritarian mainland might soon force the democratic, self-governed island into reunification talks.
Mainland-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou and his administration responded by emphasising that time was not yet ripe for the two sides to hold political dialogues, such as setting up a military mutual trust mechanism or entering a peace pact.
Tien Hung-mao, president of Taipei-based Institute for National Policy Research, said yesterday that the two sides are not ready for higher-level political talks.