Taiwan's ruling party chief Wu Poh-hsiung has described Taiwan as belonging to the Chinese nation and the two are "closely tied by blood". He made the remarks during a trip to the historical city of Nanjing, a part of his landmark trip to China. The week-long visit by Wu comes as both Beijing and Taipei are seeking better bilateral ties.
Taiwan's newly-elected President Ma Ying-jeou
It is the first time in sixty years that the chief of Taiwan’s governing party is visiting China. The aim of Kuomintang Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung’s visit to China is to convey a message that the new government in Taiwan seeks peace with Beijing. Speaking with reporters in Nanjing just after his arrival on Monday he said he was confident about improvement in ties: "We hope this will be the beginning of a new era, when we can reconcile, be together harmoniously and jointly strive for peace.“
From Chinese side, he was welcomed by Chen Yunlin, the head of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, who called the visit a rare opportunity for cross strait relations. "At the moment, cross-strait-relations are changing in a positive direction. Dr. Sun Ya-tsen (the founder of the KMT and the Republic of China) also always called for solidarity and the revival of the Chinese Nation. This idea is still meaningful for us today."
Shift in Taiwan policy
China and Taiwan split in 1949 following a civil war. But Beijing has always claimed Taiwan to be part of its territory. Relations between the two sides were strained under the Democratic Progressive Party’s president Chen Shui -bian, who ruled the island for eight years. He outrightly rejected Beijing’s ‘One China policy’ and advocated independence.
But following his defeat in the recent presidential elections, there has been a major shift in Taiwan’s policy towards China. The China friendly Kuomintang party is now in power and the new President Ma Ying-jeou says mending ties with Beijing is his top priority. He has also promised to boost economic links and launch direct weekend flights between Chinese and Taiwanese cities by July.
Boosting mutual confidence
However, on the issue of independence he has been cautious and said there will be no negotiations on unification with Beijing or independence during his four year term. Professor Hermann Halbeisen, an expert on China affairs at the University of Cologne, describes this as a pragmatic approach: “There is an interest in Taiwan to temporary suspend the idea of sovereignty and establish ties with Beijing which are based on mutual confidence. This doesn’t however mean that they will compromise on Taiwan’s dignity and respect."
During his stay, Wu is due to meet Chinese president and Communist Party chief Hu Jintao in Beijing. He is also scheduled to visit Shanghai on Thursday to meet with Taiwanese investors and then to Jiangsu province to attend a prayer meeting for China's earthquake victims.