Taiwan will be keeping a close eye on the Communist Party's 17th National Congress to see whether the mainland's ruling party will adopt any policy guidelines detrimental to the island. But cross-strait experts do not think anything concrete will be decided in terms of action against the island at the meeting, despite a string of provocative moves by Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian. Nor do they feel that Mr Chen's moves have put pressure on the mainland leadership, led by Communist Party general secretary and President Hu Jintao , to allow more hawkish members, including those from the military, into the Politburo. While the mainland might sharpen its rhetoric against Mr Chen and his government, Alexander Huang Chieh-cheng, professor of strategic studies and dean of the American Studies Institute at Tamkang University, said it was unlikely the party congress would focus its discussions on Taiwan. 'I believe the 17th Congress will focus on high-level personnel changes, the domestic political situation and internal party issues,' said Professor Huang, a former vice-chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the island's top mainland policy planner. 'And I don't expect a surprise statement [about Taiwan].' Beijing has recently stepped up the rhetoric against Taiwan since Mr Chen provoked it by vowing to seek United Nations membership in the name of 'Taiwan' and hold a referendum on the issue alongside the island's presidential election in March. Since Mr Chen took power from the Kuomintang by winning the presidency in 2000, he has steadfastly promoted the island's independent identity, and his latest UN membership bid has further tested Beijing's limits. It has accused him of crossing a 'red line' and has threatened to resort to its Anti-Secession Law to attack the island. 'The UN referendum is a major step towards de jure independence,' Chen Yunlin , the director of the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office, which deals with cross-strait affairs, said recently. He said Beijing would spare no efforts in curbing pro-independence moves by the island's leader. Office spokesman Li Weiyi said late last month the mainland would 'decide at the 17th Congress on the guiding thoughts and main tasks regarding the Taiwan Strait situation and its recent development trend'. His comments prompted concern in Taiwan, but Taiwanese experts said they did not expect any big policy changes in cross-strait relations, merely a repetition of harsh rhetoric and a restating of Beijing's opposition to Taiwanese independence. 'After all, the mainland does not want to create a backlash by adopting a harsher policy towards Taiwan. It should continue to use the United States to rein in Taiwan and appeal to Taiwanese,' political analyst Edward Chen I-hsin, professor of American studies at Tamkang University, said. Andrew Yang Nien-dzu, secretary general of the Taipei-based Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies think-tank, said Beijing was still adopting a wait-and-see attitude towards Taiwan. 'Before Taiwan elects a new leader who will have a new [cross-strait] policy, I don't think the 17th Congress will set a harsher policy direction in dealing with Taiwan,' Dr Yang, a professor at National Sun Yat-sen University, said. Taiwan is to elect a new leader in March, with the two leading contenders being Frank Hsieh Chang-ting, of the ruling, pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, and Ma Ying-jeou of the opposition KMT, which advocates eventual union with the mainland under democratic rule. Dr Yang said although the mainland had no desire to deal with Mr Chen, it was seeking to open dialogue with Taiwan after its new leader took office. 'It would be a window of opportunity for the two sides to reopen talks if Taiwan adopts a more moderate [cross-strait] policy under the new leadership,' he said. MAC vice-chairman Tung Chen-yuan called on Beijing to adopt a friendly approach towards Taiwan, which he said was willing to improve ties with the mainland.