China’s leader Xi Jinping met with a senior figure in Taiwan’s ruling Nationalist Party on Tuesday, as Beijing’s outreach across the Taiwan Strait gains momentum, even while deep-seated political divisions remain.
China’s official broadcaster, China Central Television, showed footage of the meeting between the Kuomintang’s Honorary Chairman Lien Chan and Xi, who acted as secretary general of the Communist Party of China rather than in his capacity as head of state.
China claims the self-ruling island democracy Taiwan as its own territory, to be recovered by military force if necessary.
Lien’s visit follows the first-ever high-level talks last week between officials of the two governments since China and Taiwan split during civil war in 1949.
Though the discussions achieved no concrete result, they marked a concession in Beijing’s usual refusal to recognise the authority of the government in Taipei.
The sides agreed to hold a further round of government-to-government talks at a date to be announced.
Representatives “from different walks of life,” joined Tuesday’s talks in a lavish state guesthouse in Beijing, the country’s official news agency reported.
Lien is the Nationalist Party’s honorary chairman and is a former premier and vice president who ran twice for president, both times unsuccessfully.
He is also the head of a foundation on cross-strait peaceful development.
Last week’s talks in the city of Nanjing signalled that Xi intends to carry forward predecessor Hu Jintao’s more measured approach to Taiwan relations.
That change of tack followed years of threats to attack the island if it declares formal independence or delays unification indefinitely that were only to seen to have backfired.
(Copyright 2014 APTN. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)