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Taiwan, China Leaders Hold Talks Ahead of Elections

Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party leader Eric Chu and China's President Xi Jinping during their meeting in Beijing, Monday.
Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party leader Eric Chu and China's President Xi Jinping during their meeting in Beijing, Monday.
Taiwan, China Leaders Hold Talks Ahead of Elections
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Top political leaders from Taiwan and China met Monday for the first time in six years. Political experts say the talks were aimed at increasing support for Taiwan’s ruling party before elections early next year.

Taiwan’s Nationalist Party Chairman Eric Chu arrived in China Saturday for a three-day visit. The official is a likely candidate in Taiwan's next presidential election.

The visit included meetings with top Communist Party leaders. Mr. Chu also attended a discussion between the Nationalist Party and the Communist Party and met with scholars and students at universities in Beijing and Shanghai.

On Monday, Mr. Chu met with Xi Jinping, the Chinese president and Communist Party chief. The Taiwanese politician called for increasing Taiwan’s involvement in efforts designed to support regional peace.

He said, "the younger generation in Taiwan hopes to see the promotion of regional peace, no matter what the activities or organizations might be." He said that that "includes efforts that seek to promote regional economic integration such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank."

During his visit, Mr. Chu repeated Taiwan's request to join the bank. China has expressed concerns that to do so might suggest that Taiwan it is an independent country. China says the island is a Chinese territory.

During their meeting, Xi Jinping promised stronger efforts to benefit those in Taiwan. He said the island would be a priority as China continues to open up its economy.

Mr. Xi also told Mr. Chu that the two should settle their political differences by holding talks on equal footing. He said this could only happen if Taiwan accepts it is a part of China.

The Communists defeated the Nationalists during the 1949 civil war in China. The Nationalists fled to Taiwan. The meeting between the two party leaders is just the third since that split. Nationalist Party support has been decreasing in Taiwan.

Joseph Cheng is a political scientist at the City University of Hong Kong. He says Mr. Chu’s visit had risks for the ruling Nationalist Party, or KMT. He says China is likely to find ways to offer support to its former competitor.

The Nationalist Party won control in Taiwan in 2008. Since then it has based much of its success on improving ties with China. The Nationalist-government of Taiwan has signed several economic agreements with China.

But, last year, students led a huge protest movement. The students occupied the Taiwanese legislature to protest a trade deal with China. The so-called Sunflower Student Movement has mobilized Taiwan's younger voters. They and others are concerned about some of the ways closer ties with China will affect Taiwan.

Taiwan's ruling Nationalists have yet to choose a candidate for the race. But many feel Eric Chu has the best chance of winning the presidential election. But he says he will not seek the office. He says he will not leave his current office as mayor of New Taipei, an area surrounding the capital, Taipei.

I’m Caty Weaver.

VOA correspondent Bill Ide reported this story from Beijing. Caty Weaver adapted it for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.


Words in This Story

scholarn. a person who has studied a subject for a long time and knows a lot about it: an intelligent and well-educated person who knows a particular subject very well

regional adj. a part of a country, of the world, etc., that is different or separate from other parts in some way

priority n. the condition of being more important than something or someone else and therefore coming or being dealt with first

mobilize v. to bring (people) together for action