Taiwanese leader 'open to dialogue' with Beijing

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 June, 2013, 4:43am

An honorary chairman of Taiwan's Kuomintang, Wu Poh-hsiung, told Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping in Beijing yesterday that the island's leader, Ma Ying-jeou, was open to cross-strait political dialogue through non-official channels, in what was seen as a goodwill gesture from Taipei.

Wu also expressed the island's desire to join Asia's Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and enjoy "meaningful participation" in global activities, which he said could "help facilitate peaceful development of cross-strait relations", the KMT said in a press release.

He said it was the Ma government's policy to deal with cross-strait issues on a step-by-step basis, doing the easy part first before the difficult, and dealing with economic matters before political issues.

"But undeniably … there are always some issues hard to divide," Wu said, adding that as long as it benefited cross-strait communication and understanding, the Ma government was open to having non-official political dialogue across the Taiwan Strait.

"Chairman Ma has already stated that there have never been any restrictions on political dialogue through the private sector," Wu said.

Xi and other mainland leaders have repeatedly called on Taiwan to start non-official political dialogue to pave the way for future official talks on the thorny issue since coming to power early this year. Such appeals have, however, often been met with a cold shoulder from Ma, who has said the time is not ripe and there would be no talks during his final term, which ends in May 2016.

Analysts said that with Wu acting as Ma's proxy, his comment represented an olive branch extended by Ma to Xi. Taiwanese President Ma, who is also the KMT's chairman, said on Monday that he had authorised Wu to represent him in the meeting with Xi.

It was Xi's first meeting with Wu since he became president in March. In the absence of consensus on the true government of China, the two sides met as representatives of their respective political parties.

Xi called on the two sides yesterday to seize the opportunity of warming ties, based on the overall interests of the Chinese race.

"To increase mutual trust, the core is to reach a clearer consensus on how to strengthen and maintain the framework of 'One China'," Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.

Wu told a news conference after the meeting that Xi had said the mainland was willing to address the issue of Taiwan's meaningful participation in international activities "through cross-strait negotiations on an equal footing".

Additional reporting by Minnie Chan