News / Asia

Taiwan, China to Hold First Official Talks

Taiwan, China to Hold First Official Talksi
X
February 10, 2014 5:48 PM
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 say the talks could mark a small step toward more normal official ties. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Nanjing where the talks will be held.
William Ide
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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid