TAIWAN is considering allowing mainland officials to visit the Kuomintang (KMT)-ruled stronghold to enhance mutual understanding as deep mistrust bogged down talks over issues such as hijacking. Chiao Jen-ho, vice-chairman of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and senior negotiator on non-government issues across the Strait said officials were conducting internal studies on whether the time was ripe for being ''more aggressive'' in inviting officials from the communist regime to visit the island. Mr Chiao was speaking to a group of Hong Kong journalists and commentators who were visiting Taipei last week. His top aides ended the fourth round of talks with their mainland counterparts in Beijing last week with no accord on sensitive issues such as aircraft hijacking. The former close aide to President Lee Teng-hui admitted that the quasi-official body was ''in a difficult position'' after the fruitless four rounds of working-level talks plus a more senior-level meeting between him and his Beijing counterpart, Tang Shubei of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait. ''The lack of mutual trust between the two sides remains serious . . . The mainland side does not really understand Taiwan,'' said Mr Chiao. The SEF leader was critical of what he said was Beijing's lack of understanding of Taiwan, as well as mixing legal matters with politics. ''Political issues cannot be solved through negotiation. One will only be able to keep power if they win public support. Beijing has to seek backing from the Taiwan community if it wants to pursue political talks,'' he said. ''But the present gap is so large that any talks on political issues are doomed to fail. ''The mainland authorities fail to understand Taiwan when they say they are putting out hopes on the KMT. They have over-estimated the KMT. It's not powerful enough to swing public opinion,'' said Mr Chiao. ''The attitude of Beijing in treating links with Taiwan as a relationship between father and son will not be acceptable to the people in Taiwan. We are not asking for recognition of our status. But they have to respect reality.'' Mr Chiao admitted that the KMT Government has banned visits by mainland officials to the island in the past because of fears of their ''adverse influence'' within the community and the bureaucracy. ''Our policy is more conservative and defensive. Whether we should be more aggressive now and try to influence mainland officials is a matter under consideration,'' he said. ''As our confidence [regarding dealing with Beijing] grows, we might readjust our policy correspondingly,'' the SEF vice-chairman said. Mr Chiao, however, urged Beijing to be more pragmatic and not to over-react. ''There will be enormous scope for the development of relations between the two sides if Beijing can understand that. ''On any mainland-Taiwan matters, we have no deadline.''