China and Taiwan hold highest level talks in six years

The two rival countries were seeking increased cross-strait cooperation after tensions in 2014, but many in democratic Taiwan oppose reunification.
By Elizabeth Shim   |   May 4, 2015 at 10:59 AM
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BEIJING, May 4 (UPI) -- A Taiwanese party leader met with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss economic cooperation in the highest-level talks between the two countries in six years.

The meeting was held at the invitation of Beijing, reported The Christian Science Monitor. On the agenda was a discussion of the "people's welfare" and bilateral relations with Taipei.

The Chinese president said China and Taiwan should settle political differences through consultation under a 'one China' policy, reported the BBC.

But many Taiwanese oppose reunification, and growing worry of Beijing's domination of Taiwan's economy prompted hundreds of Taiwanese students to protest and occupy Taiwan's parliament in March 2014.

The protests, known as the "Sunflower Movement," have led to a reduction of more trade deals with Beijing. A trade liberalization bill under discussion then has still not been legislatively approved.

Ordinary Taiwanese have said trade agreements with China do not help their low wages or their struggles with high housing prices – and that only large businesses benefit from trade with China.

In April, China rejected Taiwan's bid to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, or AIIB. BBC reported the name under which Taiwan applied implied it was an independent nation, a position that China does not hold about Taiwan.

On Monday Focus Taiwan reported Xi welcomed a new Taiwan bid for the AIIB membership as an "example of cross-strait cooperation." The application, however, must be under a more suitable name.

The Taiwanese envoy, Eric Chu, is the chairman of Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party. Chu's party accepted the Beijing invitation, said sources, to demonstrate to critics its last seven years of engagement with China can help revive Taiwan's economy.

China's Nationalist government has signed 21 pacts with China since 2008, and in 2014 bilateral trade reached $130 billion.

China tourists to Taiwan also rose, from 290,000 in 2008 to 2.8 million in 2014.

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