Xi Jinping has met the leader of Taiwan's opposition to discuss ties. He called on Taipei to respect Beijing's "One China" principle and stressed the importance of protecting "national integrity."
Xi met Kuomintag (KMT) leader Hung Hsiu-chu (pictured above, left) at Beijing's Great Hall of the People on Tuesday, the official Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday.
In an apparent reference to the new president in Taipei, Xi said Taiwan's changing politics would not affect the "One China" principle and that Beijing's position on the issue would not waver.
"To ensure that a country can't be separated and ensure the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation is the common will of all Chinese people," Xi said in a television footage released by Hong Kong's Phoenix TV.
He said his country "resolutely" opposed Taiwan's formal independence and that both sides should "continue to push forward with cooperation in all fields and continue to improve the sentiment for the benefits of all the people and strive for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation."
According to Xinhua news agency, Hung was leading the Taiwanese delegation "to promote stability and peace across the Taiwan Strait." Her party, which is pushing for peace with the mainland, expressed the possibility of a peace pact, the Kuomintang chairwoman told Xi. She said her party wanted to eliminate the "dangerous turmoil" caused by the independence-leaning government "to preserve hard-won harmony between the two sides."
Hung is considered closer to China than the ruling DPP and was chosen to lead the Kuomintang in March despite being removed as its presidential candidate because of her conservative views. Chinese President Xi sent her a congratulatory note at the time and warned against any pre-independence movement in Taiwan.
Taipei 'okay' with normal exchanges
China had cut off communication with Taipei in May, after the newly-elected President Tsai Ing-wen of the DPP won elections and refused to commit to the "One China" idea, which considers Taiwan a part of the mainland. The opposition KMT meanwhile agreed to recognize the "1992 consensus" which agrees in principle to "One China," but allows each side to interpret the concept the way they want.
Addressing Kuomintang leader Hung's trip to Beijing, Taiwanese President Tsai's spokesman Alex Huang said on Monday that Taipei saw "all normal people-to-people exchanges" with China in a normal light and that both sides needed to "enhance mutual understanding and promote the peaceful development of bilateral relations through meaningful dialogue and exchanges without political preconditions."
However, only the government in Taipei was authorized to forge agreements on behalf of its people, Huang said.
Taiwan has governed itself since 1949, when Communist forces defeated the Kuomintang, whose forces fled the island. However, Beijing still sees the island as part of its territory and presses for reunification.
mg/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)