Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang (KMT) chairman Eric Chu will meet Xi Jinping in his capacity as Communist Party general secretary in Beijing on May 4, the island’s Central News Agency reports. Chu will travel to Beijing to meet Xi the day after he participates in a forum between the two parties in Shanghai, the CNA reported citing KMT sources. This will be the first visit to the mainland by a KMT chief since 2008. The Cross-Strait Economic, Trade and Culture Forum is an important platform for exchanges between the two parties that was launched in 2006. The forum was originally scheduled last October, but was postponed following massive student-led protests against Taipei’s handling of cross-strait trade deals. Local elections in the following month saw a landslide defeat for the KMT, resulting with the resignation of Ma Ying-jeou as party chairman. Chu, who succeeded Ma as KMT chairman in January, is considered the strongest rival of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party chairman Tsai Ing-wen in Taiwan’s next presidential election, to be held in January. But after the DPP officially nominated Tsai as its candidate, Chu stated clearly last weekend that he would contest the election. Li Fei, deputy director of Xiamen University’s Taiwan Research Institute, said Chu was waiting for the right moment, and would eventually announce his candidacy. “After the forum, he will see whether his reputation in the party has risen or not. If yes, and there is no other suitable choice within the party, the [KMT] will push Chu to run,” Li said. “He can’t say he wants to run himself, because it will be a breach of faith. He needs to create a situation where he is forced to step forward to run, out of necessity for the KMT.” So far, only two chairmen of KMT have officially visited the mainland. In 2005, Lien Chan made the first visit to the mainland by a KMT chief since the two sides split at the end of their civil war in 1949. The landmark visit and the ensuing annual forum paved the way for the rapid improvements in relations that have taken place since Ma came to power in 2008. Ma was also party chairman from 2009 to 2014, but despite the improved ties during his tenure he never travelled to the mainland. Wu Po-hsiung was the last KMT chairman to visit, in 2008.