Date
20 October 2017
President Xi Jinping (right) and Kuomintang chief Eric Chu are set for the highest-level cross-strait meeting in seven years. Photos: AFP, Bloomberg
President Xi Jinping (right) and Kuomintang chief Eric Chu are set for the highest-level cross-strait meeting in seven years. Photos: AFP, Bloomberg

Taiwan ruling party chief to meet Xi Jinping

A senior Taiwanese politician will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing next month in the highest-level talks between the two sides in seven years.

Eric Chu, leader of Taiwan’s Nationalist Party (Kuomintang), is set for a May 4 meeting with Xi, chairman of China’s Communist Party.

The meeting follows an annual cross-party forum in Shanghai, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing parties from both sides in separate statements.

No major agreements are expected to come out of the meeting but some analysts said it could send a message that cross-party ties are strong despite the Kuomintang’s drubbing in local elections last year and student protests in Taiwan over a trade pact with mainland China.

“Cross-strait harmony is still the dominant concern for the Taiwan electorate across all political preferences,” said Yen Chen-shen, a political-science professor at Taiwan’s National Chengchi University.

“The meeting between the two leaders is to highlight that the KMT is still Beijing’s preferred partner that can be trusted to handle cross-strait affairs.”

The meeting is also a chance for Chu, who became the party chief less than five months ago, to set the tone for future engagements with China amid concerns that the KMT has become too cozy with Beijing in recent years.

Chu, a moderate, has carefully avoided offering firm views on cross-strait ties.

He is widely seen as the party’s best hope in next year’s presidential race, although he has said he doesn’t intend to run.

Taiwan and mainland China have hammered out numerous trade deals since the KMT regained power in 2008 but relations could cool if the pro-Taiwan independence Democratic Progressive Party holds on to its current lead in the polls to win the 2016 presidential elections.

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