Top Taiwan-China relations officials to meet in February

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 25, 2013 5:43 AM
Top Taiwan-China relations officials to meet in February

TAIPEI (Reuters) - The top officials in Taiwan and China responsible for their relations are to meet for the first time in February in an effort to boost ties, Taiwan's ruling party said on Wednesday.

China considers Taiwan a renegade province and has never ruled out the use of force to bring the island under its control. But economic ties have grown considerably in recent years.

Taiwan Mainland Affairs Minister Wang Yu-chi will meet his Chinese counterpart, Minister of Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council Zhang Zhijun, Taiwan's ruling party said.

It did not say where they would meet.

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said that among the matters on the agenda would be formal representative offices on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, the Nationalist Party said in a statement.

Ma did not rule out the possibility of discussing China's recently announced air defense identification zone, which overlaps Taiwan's by 23,000 sq km (9,000 sq miles), the party also said. Taiwan is a close U.S. ally.

The two sides have been ruled separately since Chinese Nationalist forces, defeated by the Communists, fled to the island at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.

Ma opened Taiwan to trade with China when he took office in 2008 and they have signed economic agreements that have made mainland China Taiwan's largest trading partner.

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But booming trade has not led to progress on political reconciliation or a lessening of military readiness on both sides.

In October, Chinese President Xi Jinping said a political solution to the standoff could not be postponed forever. But Ma later said he saw no urgency for political talks and wanted to focus on trade.

(Reporting by Michael Gold; Editing by Robert Birsel)