News / Asia

China, Taiwan Plan High-Level Talks

FILE - Zhang Zhijun, director of the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), is asked for comments by journalists after meeting with Taiwan's former Vice President Vincent Siew in Bali, Indonesia, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013.
FILE - Zhang Zhijun, director of the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), is asked for comments by journalists after meeting with Taiwan's former Vice President Vincent Siew in Bali, Indonesia, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Ralph Jennings
— Taiwan says it will hold ministerial level talks with China next month.  The two sides are likely to discuss issues that would advance Beijing’s goal of unifying the two separately ruled sides.
 
Taiwan said Tuesday its China policy architect, Wang Yu-chi, will meet his Chinese counterpart, Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun, in the southern city of Nanjing and in Shanghai from February 11 until February 14.

Wang told reporters in Taipei Tuesday the trip will not deal with sensitive political issues, but help establish a communication mechanism to avoid misunderstandings.  He added that economic ties will be the focus of the meeting.

"It is simply to further mutual understanding and engage the Mainland Affairs Council and China’s State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, through these normal interactions, to promote progress on pushing forward business, this is the main goal," he said.

The two ministers also are expected to discuss establishing de facto consular offices.  Those first-ever offices would service the surge in visits by Chinese and Taiwanese investors, and Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan.

Nathan Liu, an international affairs professor at Ming Chuan University in Taiwan, says the first such high-level meeting between the two sides could present an opportunity to discuss tough political issues if public opinion is favorable.
 
"This will be an ice-breaking movement leading to real political discussion or political issues.  If the reaction from the general public is good, not too much trouble, I think they’ll just go ahead," he said.

Some opposition legislators in Taiwan have already expressed concern over the trip.  

Reacting to the recent conviction of Chinese dissident Xu Zhiyong, senior opposition member Hong Cai-Long said Wang should convey that the Taiwanese people are highly concerned about human rights in China.

Ruling party legislator Lin De-Fu said Wang should speak with lawmakers before his trip.

"Before he leaves he should come to the Legislature and give an explanation and a report, taking suggestions from the political parties, I think he will take these into consideration and act appropriately on this trip," he said.
   
China and Taiwan have been separately ruled since the civil war of the 1940s, but Beijing claims sovereignty over the island and has threatened to use force if peaceful reunification fails.  In 2008, the two sides broke their impasse with a series of trade, transit and investment deals worked out by semi-official negotiators.
 
Democratic Taiwan still shunned political talks because much of the island’s public prefers to keep a distance from its Communist neighbor.  Last year, however, Chinese President Xi Jinping publicly urged Taiwan to start talking politics at an early date.  On Tuesday, China's Taiwan Affairs Office called the meeting an important move to develop relations.

Economic powerhouse China has used investment and trade perks to sustain informal dialogue with Taiwan since 2008, and analysts say it now wants to start covering topics that it cares about more, namely reunification.
 
The business community would welcome talks that ease tension, making China and Taiwan a safer place for long-term investment.  Taiwanese, however, may protest if the ministerial discussions touch on issues that invite reunification.

Yungtai Chang contributed to this report from Taipei.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 266 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid