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Taiwan's former vice president to meet new China leader
by Staff Writers
Taipei (AFP) Feb 24, 2013

China's Xi vows friendly ties with Taiwan
Beijing (AFP) Feb 25, 2013 - New Chinese leader Xi Jinping vowed Monday to pursue friendly ties with Taiwan and keep seeking "peaceful reunification" in a meeting with an influential politician from the island, state media reported.

Xi, who became Communist Party chief in November and is set to assume the country's presidency next month, held talks with Lien Chan, a former vice president of Taiwan, the official Xinhua news agency said.

China and Taiwan have been governed separately since 1949 when China's communists defeated the nationalist Kuomintang party in a civil war. The nationalists fled to Taiwan and have ruled the island for most of the past six decades.

Xi echoed Beijing's longstanding position, saying it was the "duty" of the party's new leadership to keep pushing for "peaceful reunification" and "maintain consistency in policies... by unswervingly upholding the one-China principle".

Cross-strait relations have improved since the Kuomintang's Ma Ying-jeou became Taiwan's president in 2008 on a Beijing-friendly platform. He was re-elected in 2012 for a final four-year term.

A Taiwan politician known for making a landmark 2005 visit to China flew to Beijing Sunday to meet China's Communist Party chief Xi Jinping in the highest level cross-strait meeting since Xi took office, officials said.

Former vice president Lien Chan led a 30-strong delegation of politicians and business leaders to China's capital where he is scheduled to meet Xi on Monday.

Lien said he will use the trip to meet "new and old friends" including Xi, who is due to formally become China's president in March in a choreographed leadership change, and outgoing President Hu Jintao.

"Cross-strait ties took a twist separately in 2005 and 2008 and there's no denying that since then the ties have improved markedly," Lien told reporters ahead of his departure, mindful of his ice-breaking 2005 trip as chief of the island's nationalist Kuomintang party.

Taiwan and China resumed dialogue in 2008 after splitting in 1949 at the end of a civil war, leading to the resumption of direct flights and the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement trade pact.

"But there's still room for development of the ties," Lien said, without going into details.

Despite the fast-warming relationship, the former bitter rivals technically remain at war, with the People's Liberation Army aiming more than 1,600 ballistic and cruise missiles at the island.

Beijing claims the island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, even though Taiwan has ruled itself for more than six decades.

Ties with China have improved markedly since the Kuomintang's Ma Ying-jeou became Taiwan's president in 2008 on a Beijing-friendly platform. He was re-elected in 2012 for a final four-year term.


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