TAIWAN'S Premier Lien Chan, speaking on the eve of a new round of talks with China, called yesterday for the two sides to put aside their political rivalry and focus on expanding ties. In a speech billed as a major statement of Taiwan's policy towards China, Mr Lien said he was eager to expand contacts in the areas of trade, investment, cultural exchanges and scientific co-operation. He proposed that each side allow the free circulation of the other side's newspapers and establish permanent news media bureaus in each other's territory. China's response to the proposal was not immediately known. ''Taiwan and mainland China are brothers. We should learn from each other and complement each other. This is the shortest road to reunification,'' Mr Lien said. But he stressed that future improvement in relations would depend on China's renunciation of the use of military force against Taiwan and a halt to its campaign to isolate the island diplomatically. ''Otherwise the confrontational and antagonistic relations between us cannot change,'' Mr Lien said. Later in the day, 11 Chinese negotiators arrived in Taipei to hold six days of talks, beginning today, on issues including the repatriation of Chinese asylum-seekers who have hijacked nine airliners to Taiwan this year, and fishing disputes. The Taipei talks will be the first bilateral negotiations ever held in Taiwan, following talks in China and Singapore. A vice-chairman of ARATS (Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait), Mr Tang Shubei, has also indicated his wish to visit the island early next week, in which case he would becomethe most senior mainland official in charge of Taiwan affairs to go to the Kuomintang-ruled island. Head of the ARATS team Sun Yafu said cross-strait exchanges would be boosted if the two sides could reach an agreement on the repatriation of hijackers at the talks. Huang Kun-hwei, chairman of the Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council, said on Thursday the Government did not oppose communist officials visiting the island for talks, since ''this is a matter between private bodies''. The arrival of the Chinese delegation sparked a noisy demonstration at the airport by about 150 rightists, who oppose making concessions to China. About 50 members of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which wants Taiwan to abandon its official goal of eventual reunification with China, also demonstrated. ''Despite the demonstrations, we feel welcome in Taiwan,'' said Mr Sun, deputy secretary-general of ARATS. Repatriation of hijackers is expected to be the most divisive issue at the talks. Taipei has said it is willing to send back the hijackers but has insisted that they must first be tried in Taiwan and that China must promise not to retry them. Beijing has so far refused to accept these conditions and has accused Taiwan of indirectly encouraging the hijackings by failing to repatriate suspects immediately. Mr Huang, of the Mainland Affairs Council, which sets policy towards China, said an unsuccessful round of talks in the Chinese city of Xiamen last month showed that deep divisions remained. ''We know there were differences between the two sides after the Xiamen talks, so we cannot expect too much from the talks this time,'' Mr Huang said. The two sides were anxious to strike a deal on the repatriation of hijackers to put an end to this year's rash of air piracy. The Communists of Beijing and the Nationalists of Taipei were antagonists in the Chinese civil war, which ended in 1949.