China and Taiwan have been in conflict over the status of the island ever since the Kuomintang's undignified retreat following its defeat by the Communist Party in the civil war (1927-1949). China has long considered Taiwan as a 'renegade province' that must be united with the mainland by 'force if necessary'. Beijing suspended its dialogue with Taipei in 1999 after then-president Lee Teng-hui declared that their relations were to be conducted on a 'state-to-state' basis. Over the years, both sides have staged a series of war games and ammunition parades in an attempt to frighten the other side on the unification issue. In spite of this, the icy cross-strait relationship has seen signs of a thaw over the past few years. In fact, interaction between Taiwan and the mainland is expanding rapidly. Both trade contacts and the number of direct passenger charter flights during holidays have increased. Beijing has also toned down its comments compared to the policy of 'urgent unification' championed by Deng Xiaoping in the 80s. Analysts believe that a possible KMT victory in the upcoming election will herald a rosier chapter in cross-strait relations.