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Taiwan's KMT chief, and Xi Jinping set to discuss cross-strait ties in Beijing

Parties on both sides of strait hope meeting will bring a better understanding of each other's positions and set tone for next decade

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 June, 2013, 10:03am
 

The honorary chairman of Taiwan's Kuomintang, Wu Poh-hsiung, would meet Communist Party general secretary President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Thursday to discuss cross-strait relations, KMT officials said yesterday.

The two sides hoped the high-level meeting will bring a better understanding of each other's positions and bottom lines, which should help set the tone for cross-strait policies in the next decade, Taiwanese analysts and KMT officials said.

As an envoy of KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou, who is also the island's president, Wu would lead a delegation of senior KMT officials and cross-strait affairs experts to Beijing tomorrow for a three-day stay, officials said.

"Wu will represent chairman Ma in the meeting with general secretary Xi," KMT spokesman Yin Wei said. The two would engage in "constructive dialogue on cross-strait developments".

Fan Liqing , a spokeswoman for the mainland State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, said the meeting was important, coming so soon after Xi's summit with his US counterpart, Barack Obama, at the weekend.

It will be Xi's first meeting with Wu since Xi became president in March. The two sides will meet as representatives of their respective political parties in the absence of consensus on the true government of China.

Hsu Yung-ming, an associate professor of political science at Taiwan's Soochow University, said that as "Ma's proxy", Wu's meeting with Xi would be more representative than a meeting between Xi and another KMT honorary chairman, Lien Chan, in February. During that meeting, Lien told Xi that negotiations across the Taiwan Strait were unavoidable.

Such comments triggered concerns among the pro-independence camp on the island that the Ma government was moving towards cross-strait unification. This prompted Ma's office to quickly deny that Lien had been delivering a message from Ma to Xi. Lien's office later insisted that Lien had discussed his thoughts with Ma before leaving for Beijing.

Hsu said Xi was expected to touch on the issue of cross-strait political dialogue and it "remained to be seen" how Wu would respond.

Kao Hui, director of the KMT's mainland affairs department, said the Xi-Wu meeting would be highly significant in the sense that it would set a direction for the two sides in terms of the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.

"Cross-strait relations have improved steadily since 2008 and there shouldn't be any substantial changes in policy structure and direction, but this also means cross-strait relations have reached the 'deep-water zone'," he said. It was time for the two sides to think about how they should tackle bigger challenges.

Ma took office as Taiwan's president in 2008 and adopted a policy of engagement with Beijing, leading to warming cross-strait ties and the signing of 18 non-political agreements and a series of exchanges.

In a meeting with Wu yesterday, Ma said the honorary chairman's visit offered a "precious opportunity for the two ruling parties to review developments in bilateral ties over the past five-plus years and consider the direction of future development".

Ma said the two sides needed a new vision, new ideas and new momentum to help them sustain peace and prosperity.

He also said the summit between Xi and Obama, during which Obama offered his support for the improvement of cross-strait ties, reflected that cross-strait rapprochement was also in Washington's interest.

Members of Wu's delegation will include Chan Chun-po, a former KMT deputy chairman, Hung Hsiu-chu and Huang Min-hui, both KMT deputy chairwomen, and Su Chi, presidium chair of the KMT's Central Advisory Committee.

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