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Talk of the Day -- Next stage in Taiwan-China relations

2013/02/21 22:13:31

The two sides of the Taiwan Strait will soon begin a new stage of interaction in the wake of power transition in the Communist Party of China (CPC), according to local media reports.

Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang has confirmed that its honorary chairman, Lien Chan, will depart for Beijing Feb. 24 for a four-day visit at the head of a delegation of KMT officials and business executives.

Media reports said Lien, a former vice president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), is visiting Beijing at the invitation of the CPC's upper echelons and that he will stay in China's capital city for the duration of his upcoming trip.

During his stay, Lien will meet with China's outgoing President Hu Jintao and CPC General Secretary Xi Jinping who will succeed Hu as Chinese president in March.

Lien, who has five times represented President Ma Ying-jeou at the annual leaders' of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum since 2008, will be the first Taiwanese politician to meet with Xi since the latter took over the CPC's helm late last year.

Local political analysts said the Lien-Xi meeting is worthy of observation because it will offer Xi an opportunity to outline his vision on cross-strait relations.

Xi has seldom spoken on Taiwan-related issues since he replaced Hu as the CPC's top leader at the party's 18th National Congress last November.

The following are excerpts from a special report in the Thursday edition of the United Evening News:

Lien's 2005 visit to Beijing in his capacity as then-opposition KMT chairman was widely seen as a groundbreaking event that helped score a breakthrough in the long-stalled cross-strait ties.

China's invitation to Lien at this rare moment when its presidency and top ruling party post are occupied by two different figures reflects its hope that the event will serve as a bridge between earlier and later stages in cross-strait relations, political analysts said.

Xi is expected to set the tone for the next phase of cross-strait interaction in his talks with Lien on Feb. 25, political sources said.

His speech will shed light on the stance of China's new generation of leaders on cross-strait relations and whether bilateral engagement will advance further smoothly in the years ahead, analysts said.

According to Lien's itinerary, Lien will also meet with leading officials of the Beijing city government later that day.

On Feb. 26, Lien will meet with Hu Jintao and Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the People's Political Consultative Conference.

Lien, who will be accompanied by a delegation of 30 to 40 KMT politicians and business executives on his Beijing visit, is scheduled to return to Taipei Feb. 27.

A seasoned politician, Lien reportedly once told his close friends that empty talks will not help cross-strait ties.

"Only walking the right path will contribute to cross-strait engagements and the ways of interaction are very important at this moment when bilateral relations will enter a 'deep water zone,'" Lien was quoted as saying.

Some political analysts said the upcoming Lien-Xi meeting will once again highlight Lien's role in cross-strait engagements.

While Xi will very likely reaffirm continuity of his predecessor's policy toward Taiwan based on the "1992 Consensus" that calls for strengthening and deepening of social and economic exchanges, he may also push for dialogue on political issues in his meeting with Lien, analysts said.

In their views, Xi's speech will reflect the way of thinking of a new generation of Chinese leaders toward the development of cross-strait ties over the next decade. (Feb. 21, 2013).

(By Sofia Wu)
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