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Taiwan, China to Hold Historic Talks

Taiwan's top policymaker on Beijing issues says he will travel to mainland China next month for the first high-level contact between the two sides since 1949.

Mainland Affairs Minister Wang Yu-chi said Tuesday his trip was "crucial" for further institutionalizing China-Taiwan ties, which have warmed in recent years.

Wang told reporters in Taipei Tuesday the trip will not deal with sensitive political issues, but will 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."



But some opposition legislators have 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."



Wang 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.



Taiwan split from China following a civil war in 1949, but Beijing still regards it as a breakaway province that will someday be reunified with the mainland.

Economic ties have improved in recent years, especially after the somewhat Beijing-friendly Ma Ying-jeou was elected president in 2008 and re-elected in 2012.

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