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China and Taiwan to hold historic talks

Agence France-Presse . Nanjing / New Age Online

Wang Yu-chi. -- File photoWang Yu-chi. -- File photo

China and Taiwan will hold their first government-to-government talks Tuesday since they split 65 years ago after a brutal civil war -- a symbolic yet historic move between the former bitter rivals.
Taipei's Wang Yu-chi, who oversees the island's China policy, arrived in Nanjing for a meeting with his Beijing counterpart Zhang Zhijun on the first day of a four-day trip, a Taiwanese official said.
The eastern Chinese city was the country's capital when it was ruled by Wang's Kuomintang, or Nationalist, party in the first half of the 20th century.
When they lost China's civil war -- which cost millions of lives -- to Mao Zedong's communists in 1949, two million supporters of the Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China.
The island and the mainland have been governed separately ever since, both claiming to be the true government of China and only re-establishing contact in the 1990s through quasi-official organisations.
Tuesday's meeting is the fruit of years of efforts to improve relations.
But Beijing's communist authorities still aim to reunite all of China under their rule, and view Taiwan as a rebel region awaiting reunification with the mainland, by force if necessary.
Over the decades Taipei has become increasingly isolated diplomatically, losing the Chinese seat at the UN in 1971 and seeing the number of countries recognising it steadily whittled away, but it is supplied militarily by the United States and has enjoyed a long economic boom.
While no official agenda has been released for the talks -- widely seen as a symbolic, confidence-building exercise -- Taiwan's Wang last month said they had ‘crucial implications for further institutionalisation of ties between the two sides’.

Taiwan is likely to focus on reaping practical outcomes from the discussions, such as securing economic benefits or security assurances, while China has one eye on long-term integration of the island, analysts say.




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