Xi vows to push for 'peaceful reunification' with Taiwan

Party leader marks high-level Beijing meeting by assuring honorary Kuomintang chairman of his desire to develop relations with Taiwan

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 February, 2013, 5:48am

Communist Party leader Xi Jinping told the visiting honorary chairman of Taiwan's Kuomintang, Lien Chan, yesterday that his team would continue to build cross-strait ties and strive for "peaceful reunification" with the island.

"The new Communist Party leadership will continue to push forward the peaceful development of relations between the two sides and advance the cause of peaceful reunification," Xinhua quoted Xi as saying at the meeting in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

The meeting marked the highest-level cross-strait meeting since the party's leadership change in November, and was closely watched in Taiwan and abroad because Xi's remarks were expected to shed some light on future policy towards Taiwan.

The new Communist Party leadership will continue to push forward the peaceful development of relations between the two sides and advance the cause of peaceful reunification

It also roughly indicated the line-up of the mainland's new Taiwan policy team, with the presence of Yu Zhengsheng , expected to be appointed chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference next month, Politburo member Wang Huning and Li Zhanshu , chief of the party's General Office. Outgoing State Councillor Dai Bingguo and Taiwan Affairs Office director Wang Yi were also present.

Xi, who will succeed Hu Jintao as president next month, told Lien that his team would "pragmatically forge ahead" with achievements in relations that would enrich residents on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

During the meeting, Xi, who spent 17 years working in Fujian province , across the strait from Taiwan, said he had been "continuously paying close attention to the cross-strait situation". He asked Lien to convey greetings to Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, whose policy of engaging Beijing since taking office in 2008 has sharply reduced hostility between Taiwan and the mainland.

Analysts said Monday's talks indicated that the party's new leadership would maintain the momentum between Beijing and Taiwan. More importantly, given Xi's considerable work experience in handling cross-strait affairs, he might venture into "deeper water" - political talks.

Professor Wang Kung-yi, a political expert fromTamkang University in Taipei, said the talks provided a glimpse of "the baseline of Xi's cross-strait policy".

"But we must also note what Xi said about 'new achievements' in cross-strait ties, as this shows the new mainland leadership will not just be satisfied with what Hu has achieved," Wang said.

He said that before pressing for political dialogue, Xi was expected to push for "more social integration", putting more emphasis on reaching out to people in southern Taiwan - a pro-independence stronghold.

Lien told a news conference later that political contacts "should be given a proper level of attention" to come to grips with the thorny issue of "one-China".



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