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

Photogallery Kyiv: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Weeki
X
August 29, 2014 2:18 AM
The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid