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China's Xi Jinping meets Taiwan's Eric Chu, asserts 'one China' principle

China's president, Xi Jinping, has met the head of Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party for talks to consolidate ties. Beijing has emphasized the principle of "one China," which sees Taipei as a part of Chinese territory.

Eric Chu of Taiwan's Nationalist Party met with the Chinese leader on Monday in an attempt to improve business ties and resolve political differences with Beijing. It was the first meeting between the two parties in seven years.

"The two sides can consult with each other on equal basis under the principle of 'one China' and reach a reasonable arrangement," Xi said in the meeting which took place in Beijing's Great Hall of the People and was attended by a 10-member delegation from each side.

The "one China" policy maintains that there is only one China, of which Taiwan is a part. Relations between China and self-ruled Taiwan became complicated after Nationalist forces fled to the island and declared independence following a civil war with the Communists in 1949.

The war never ended officially, but in the 1990s Beijing began warming up to the island's ruling Nationalist Party, which also opposed independence from China.

Nationalist Party losing popularity

Xi emphasized that both groups needed to "be brave when facing lingering political differences and difficulties, pool wisdom of compatriots of both sides and actively search for a solution." He promised that Beijing would "give priority to Taiwan in opening up" and that the mainland's efforts to "open up to Taiwan compatriots will be bigger."

Taiwanese leader Eric Chu was Beijing's best bet to improve its influence in the island, since his

Nationalist Party is considered to be pro-China.

He also expressed Taipei's desire to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Development Bank.

The Taiwanese government's latest meeting with China could however compromise the ruling Nationalist Party's popularity with voters, especially after protests last year, in which thousands marched against a proposed trade pact with Beijing.

The rallies led to

severe local electoral losses for Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou

, who resigned from the party chairman's position.

mg/kms (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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