BEIJING: Leaders of China’s Communist Party will meet the chairman of Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party early next month, state media said Friday, amid improving relations between the political foes.
Mainland officials, who were not named, will meet Eric Chu, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson for the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party Central Committee.
Chu is leading a delegation that will first attend the Cross-Strait Economic, Trade and Culture Forum in Shanghai on Sunday next week and then travel to Beijing.
Taiwanese media earlier reported that Chu would fly to Shanghai on May 2 and address the forum’s opening the next day, adding that he also plans to speak to university students there.
In 2005 Lien Chan made the first trip to the mainland by a KMT chief since the two sides split at the end of a civil war in 1949.
The landmark visit and the ensuing annual forum paved the way for fast-improving relations since Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou came to power in 2008. He was re-elected in 2012.
Wu Po-hsiung was the last KMT chairman to visit the mainland, in 2008.
In June 2010 the two sides signed a trade pact known as the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, widely seen as the boldest step yet towards reconciliation.
But public sentiment has turned against the Beijing-friendly approach as voters say trade deals have been agreed in secret and not benefited ordinary Taiwanese.
In March last year around 200 students occupied parliament for more than three weeks to demonstrate against a controversial services trade pact, while thousands rallied in support of what became known as the “Sunflower Movement”.
The KMT suffered its worst-ever showing in local polls in November—seen as a barometer for presidential elections in 2016—with its Beijing-friendly policy blamed for alienating many voters.
Despite the setback, Ma said earlier this month ties with China were “back to normal”. He insisted that regular government surveys suggested a decline in the number of people who oppose the pace of his cross-strait rapprochement.