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

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs