All eyes are on whether former Taiwanese premier Frank Hsieh Chang-ting will be able to meet senior mainland official Jia Qinglin in Beijing this weekend.
Asked whether he would meet Jia, Hsieh said he was not sure if the meeting would take place. "Arrangements are still being made over who I shall meet in Beijing," he said.
Such a meeting would reflect a positive mainland attitude to Hsieh's "icebreaking" trip, Taiwanese media and observers said yesterday.
Hsieh, also a former chairman of Taiwan's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), began his five-day mainland trip in his ancestral home of Xiamen , Fujian , on Thursday.
He arrived in Beijing last night after meeting a group of scholars and Taiwanese businessmen in Xiamen.
Taiwanese media reported that Hsieh might meet Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference chairman Jia, the fourth-ranked member of the Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee and the No 2 party leader in charge of cross-strait relations.
They said that if Hsieh was able to meet Jia, it would mean Beijing was reacting positively to Hsieh's mainland visit - which he says is aimed at seeking mutual trust and improving ties between the DPP and Beijing. Cross-strait ties became strained when the DPP was in power in Taiwan between 2000 and 2008, with Beijing warning the DPP against declaring formal independence for the island.
Hsieh, who visited the mainland 18 years ago as a legislator, is the most senior politician from the pro-independence party to visit the mainland. His support for better ties between the DPP and the mainland has been a contentious issue within his party.
On the first day of his trip, to Xiamen and his ancestral home of Dongshan Island on Thursday, Hsieh portrayed himself as someone seeking his roots. He shed tears while paying homage to his ancestors.
He also described his visit as being like visiting his brother's home and reminded the mainland authorities that there had never been any long-standing grudges between the DPP and the Communist Party, unlike Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang, which lost a civil war to the communists.
Hsieh visited the Taiwan Research Institute at Xiamen University yesterday for a closed-door seminar with a group of think tank scholars and cross-strait experts, including institute chairman Liu Guoshen .
He said afterwards that there had been big improvements in cross-strait economic exchanges in the past few years and he felt that instead of putting aside their differences over certain aspects of such exchanges, it was time for the two sides to deal with their differences directly.