Let's not squander progress made on cross-strait ties, Xi urges

Let's not squander progress made on cross-strait ties, Xi urges
Mr Xi Jinping (right) meeting KMT chairman Eric Chu in Beijing yesterday in his capacity as CCP general secretary. It was the first high-level meeting between both parties in six years.

BEIJING - Chinese President Xi Jinping urged both sides of the Taiwan Strait not to squander the hard- fought progress made in cross- strait ties as he offered "equal talks" to resolve political differences under the "one China" policy.

Mr Xi made the remarks during talks yesterday with visiting Kuomintang (KMT) chairman Eric Chu, whom he met in his capacity as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). It was the first high-level meeting between both parties in six years.

He also called for building a framework to protect the peaceful development of ties.

"Both parties should uphold the correct view of cross-strait ties and be against any actions that will damage the political foundations of these ties. We must not lose the fruits we have gained... which have not come easy," Mr Xi said.

"The two sides can consult with each other on equal basis under the principle of 'one China'," he added.

The meeting comes amid growing unease among Taiwanese that the KMT, which is seen as pro- China, has become too cosy with Beijing in recent years.

This has allowed the island's opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to gain ground, with political pundits predicting that it would wrest power from the KMT in next January's presidential election.

The shifting sentiment was also felt when students occupied Taiwan's Parliament in a 24-day protest against closer trade links with China last year.

While Mr Chu, who became KMT chairman in January, has said he will not run for president, he remains a potential candidate.

Yesterday, he said he hoped both sides can work together on regional peace, environmental protection and economic integration.

While he made no mention of political talks in a transcript released by his party, he said he hoped Taiwan would be allowed greater participation in global organisations, which has been difficult due to Beijing's objections.

Experts said Mr Xi reiterated the idea of "equal talks" as a form of reassurance to encourage continued interaction between both parties.

China regards Taiwan as a renegade province to be recovered by force if necessary and is pushing for a political dialogue on reunification. A 2005 landmark pact that revived communication between Taiwan and the mainland after six decades similarly called for resuming "consultations on an equal footing".

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