The vice-chairman of Taiwan’s main opposition party Kuomintang urged Beijing to help reduce cross-strait tensions in a sensitive meeting on Thursday that was closely watched by the island’s government. Song Tao, head of the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office and the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, met Andrew Hsia in a closed-door meeting at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. The meeting had drawn concern from the government of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, which had warned Hsia against making any promises that could hurt the island’s interests during the trip. Song, a veteran diplomat best known for an ice-breaking visit to North Korea in 2017 as Xi’s special envoy, was the first senior mainland official Hsia had met during his stop in Beijing. Hsia urged the mainland side to make the utmost efforts to pursue peace and stability, according to a statement from the KMT issued late on Thursday. “The vice-chairman made three major appeals at the start of the talks,” the statement said. “They included consolidating and maintaining the agreements previously made by the two sides to promote public well-being; doing all it can to overcome hardship to reduce the inconvenience and costs deriving from cross-strait exchanges, and easing tensions between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait,” it said. Hsia said also the KMT hoped to cooperate with the mainland to work for the benefits and well-being of people across the Taiwan Strait, according to the mainland state news agency Xinhua Its report said that Song told Hsia: “We are willing to increase exchanges and mutual trust with the KMT under the common political basis of 1992 consensus (one-China principle) and opposition to Taiwan independence.” Song also told Hsia his office would follow the guidelines made during the 20th National Congress in resolving the Taiwan issue and consolidate the work based on Xi’s directions on cross-strait affairs. KMT chairman pitches party as stabilising presence between Beijing and Taiwan Before boarding a plane for Beijing on Wednesday, Hsia said he would convey “issues Taiwanese are concerned about” to Song when asked if he would bring up potential cross-strait conflict in his meeting with Song. Hsia, a former diplomat and cross-strait affairs official, is leading a five-member KMT delegation on a 10-day visit that began on Wednesday. The government in Taipei has warned Hsia against making an under-the-table deal that may undermine the government’s policies towards Beijing. In a news conference in Taipei on Thursday, the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan’s top cross-strait policy body, asked the KMT to make public what Hsia and Song had discussed in their meeting. “Hsia’s party has the responsibility to fully reveal what he has been doing and which senior mainland Chinese officials he has met [during his visit] to alleviate the public’s worries and concerns”, the council’s vice-chairman Chiu Chui-cheng said. He said Hsia must make clear to his mainland hosts that mainstream opinion in Taiwan favours democracy and peace and is opposed to Beijing’s efforts to coerce and threaten Taiwan. Relations between Beijing and Taipei have been strained since the DPP’s Tsai was elected president in 2016 and refused to accept the one-China principle. Beijing views Taiwan as part of its territory that must be taken under its control, by force if necessary. Chiu stressed Hsia was not authorised by the government to represent the island or to reach and sign any agreements with Beijing. The pro-independence camp and critics in Taiwan have accused Hsia of using his trip to pay tribute to Beijing and seek support for the KMT in next January’s presidential elections. They have also expressed concern about a reported plan for Hsia to meet Wang Huning, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, the country’s top decision-making body, and deputy head of the Central Leading Group for Taiwan Affairs. Taiwan elections: DPP’s Tsai resigns as party chief after KMT wins big “Wang has been a close aide to Chinese President Xi Jinping, acting as the chief architect of China’s united front offensive against Taiwan,” DPP legislator Hung Sun-han said. They also said that with tensions continuing to rise in the Taiwan Strait and the People’s Liberation Army intensifying its military operations around the island, Hsia should not have visited the mainland to create the false impression of amicable ties. KMT chairman Eric Chu, however, dismissed the criticism as sheer speculation, saying Hsia’s visit was apolitical and that it was intended to increase dialogue, understand the needs of Taiwanese residents who live on the mainland and convey Taiwanese concerns to Beijing. Earlier on Thursday, Hsia visited a Taiwanese community in Beijing and held talks with a group of Taiwanese businessmen to understand their needs, the problems they faced and what they expect from cross-strait ties, according to the KMT. Taiwanese media reports have said that he will meet Wang on Friday, but this remains unconfirmed. Before leaving Taiwan, Hsia said it was up to the Beijing authorities to decide on a meeting. “As a guest, we respect the arrangements of our hosts,” he told reporters before boarding a flight to Beijing on Wednesday. According to the KMT, Hsia is scheduled to stay in Beijing until Saturday morning before making stops in Nanjing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Chongqing and Chengdu. In addition to attending a seminar on post-Covid-19 cross-strait exchanges in Beijing on Friday and another seminar on prospects for young businesspeople in Shanghai on February 13, he will meet Taiwanese community and business representatives in those cities.