News / Asia

Taiwan, China to Hold First Official Talks

Taiwan and China hold official talks this week, a historic first for the two governments since a civil war ended more than six decades ago. Political differences still linger and while the two administrations do not officially recognize one another, some analysts think the talks could mark a small step toward more normal, official ties - and perhaps even be a prelude to a possible meeting between China's Xi Jinping and Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou later this year.
Since Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou was elected in 2008, Taipei and Beijing have made big strides in boosting economic ties.
However, as bilateral trade has boomed, Ma's approval ratings at home have sunk, hovering in the teens and low 20s for much of last year. Only halfway through his second term, there are concerns both for Ma and China's leadership that the political tide in Taiwan could be shifting away from Taipei's ruling Nationalist Party, also known as the Kuomintang.
Taiwan holds legislative elections at the end of this year, and what Ma hopes to accomplish through the historic talks is the appearance of a breakthrough in relations, said Joseph Cheng, a political scientist at the City University of Hong Kong.
"The political risk is that if the Ma Ying-jeou administration handles it well it may well boost his popularity and help to achieve better results in the important parliamentary and local elections to be held at the very end of this year, and if he fails, and if he mishandles these meetings and so on, this may become a point of criticism picked up by the opposition and adversely affect the electoral fortunes of his Kuomintang," said Cheng.
Taiwan and China have been separately ruled since the end of a civil war in the 1940s, when the Communists defeated the Nationalists. The Nationalists relocated to Taiwan and the Communist Party has ruled in China ever since.
For decades, China has considered Taiwan a part of its own territory and has not ruled out the possibility of using force to reach its goal of unification. In 1996, when Taiwan held its first democratic presidential elections, China lobbed missiles into the Taiwan Strait. In more recent years, however, Beijing has been trying to win Taiwan over with economic overtures instead.
The meetings in Nanjing this week between the two governments' top Taiwan-China policy officials are expected to be more symbolic than substantive. When the Nationalists fled China, Nanjing was their capital and so the visit will be an opportunity for Wang Yu-chi, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council minister, to revisit that historic past.
Cheng said the talks could also probe the prospect of a possible meeting between Ma and Xi Jinping later this year.
"China's leaders would like to achieve some breakthroughs in the remaining years of the Ma Ying-jeou administration. Ma is expected to step down in early 2016, and given the political situation at the moment, it is quite likely that the Democratic Progressive party, the opposition party, will win the presidential race," said Cheng.
Wang Yu-chi, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council minister, said the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation, which China will host in Beijing this November, would be an ideal place for the two presidents to meet. At such a forum, the two could be referred to as member economies and address each other as leader, sidestepping the politically touchy issue of how to address one another.
Chinese President Xi Jinping wants to see progress in relations with Taiwan. On the sidelines of the APEC Leaders Summit late last year, Xi told Taiwan's top envoy to the regional economic conference that the two sides political differences should not continue to be passed on from one generation to the next.
Wang Ming-yi, a journalist who has been covering Taiwan-China relations for more than two decades, said the first official face to face meeting will be a small window of opportunity.
He said the meeting is a reflection of the mutual trust that has been built up so far between the two sides since 2008 and the need to address political realities.
“Facing political realities is a step that has to be taken if you want to overcome more challenges and create more space for development of the relationship. But the fact that the step is being taken does not mean that all of the political differences, military and sovereignty issues that have cropped up since 1949 will all just be resolved,” Wang said. “These are still very big challenges.”
Taiwan's Wang Yu-chi will hold talks with his Chinese counterpart, Zhang Zhijun, on Tuesday in Nanjing shortly after his arrival. The following day Wang will visit a memorial for Sun Yat-sen, the founder of modern China, and deliver a speech at Nanjing University.
After a short two day visit to Nanjing, Wang will travel to Shanghai, where he will meet with Chinese academics and visit a school for the children of Taiwanese businessmen before returning back to Taipei on Friday.

You May Like

Nearly Every Job in America Mapped in Detail

A nifty map pinpoints practically every job in the United States, revealing the economic character of America’s metropolitan areas, which also helps to inform the local culture

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs