Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping meets Lien Chan, honorary chairman of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang, today - hot on the heels of the first government-to-government talks between Beijing and Taipei straits since the end of the Chinese civil war.
Lien arrived in Beijing yesterday for a four-day visit at the head of an 80-strong delegation. The two leaders will meet today in their capacities as party leaders.
Their talks will be the second the pair have held. Xi vowed to push for peaceful reunification in their first talks in Beijing last February after he took over as Communist Party leader.
Lien said his visit had "no political mission" and that a meeting between Xi and his Taiwanese counterpart, Ma Ying-jeou, was not on his agenda.
Beijing yesterday adopted a softer tone about the prospects of talks between Xi andMa.
Fan Liqing , spokeswoman for the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office, said Beijing held a "positive attitude" towards Xi and Ma holding talks, despite its chairman Zhang Zhijun's statement last week ruling out the possibility of such a meeting at the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit.
Taiwan's mainland affairs minister, Wang Yu-chi, said on Friday that Zhang had called the proposal to hold such talks during the summit inappropriate.
Yesterday Fan said all attendees should be subject to the 1991 Memorandum between China and Apec, which stipulates that Taiwan should be seen as a regional economic entity at the summit and attend under the name of "Chinese Taipei".
But Professor Jean-Pierre Cabestan, head of the political science department at Hong Kong Baptist University, said Fan's words were merely a kind gesture to "give hope" to Ma, who wanted Beijing to approve his participation in the summit.
Taiwan has long been represented by its business leaders at the Apec summit. Its political leaders are barred because of Beijing's objections that Taiwan is a breakaway Chinese province.
"Beijing is not in a hurry," he said. "Even if they (Beijing) would like to hold the dialogue, it is not going to happen any sooner than next year, since Ma's second term will not end until 2016."
Researcher Alex Chang Chuan-hsien, of the Taipei-based Academia Sinica, agreed, saying Beijing had "thrown the ball back to Ma". It was now up to Ma to decide what he was willing to compromise on to attend an international summit, he said.