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.
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

N. Korea Sentences American to 6 Years Hard Labor

Matthew Miller's brief trial Sunday comes two weeks after 24-year old Miller and two other American detainees appealed to the US government to help free them More

Pakistan Rejects Afghan Criticism of 480-kilometer Border Trench

Military spokesman tells VOA the project is part of administrative and security measures taken to secure the mountainous border with Afghanistan More

Photogallery Typhoon Kalmaegi Makes Landfall in Philippines

Storm makes landfall late Sunday, cutting power and communications lines and forcing people to flee to higher ground More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interesti
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 12, 2014 8:35 PM
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.
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.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video Palestinians Turn to Rebuilding Gaza

After almost two months of conflict in Gaza, Palestinians are preparing to rebuild the isolated Mediterranean enclave with assistance from abroad. Meanwhile, an international human rights group has found that Israel likely violated international laws of war during some of its attacks on Gaza. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Middle Eastern Church Leaders Highlight Christians’ Plight

Patriarchs of Eastern Rite churches came to Washington this week to draw attention to the attacks against Christians in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. VOA’s religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


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