China and Taiwan sign landmark deal

Negotiators agree to expand charter flights, increase tourism and set up offices.

The discussions are the first formal talks between China and Taiwan in nine years [AFP]
The discussions are the first formal talks between China and Taiwan in nine years [AFP]

Other topics being discussed include the start of direct flights between Taipei and Beijing and Taiwan allowing-in Chinese tourists.


At the opening of the talks, Chen Yunlin, China’s lead negotiator said: “We feel the great responsibility of this glorious mission and we must spare no effort in realising the aspiration of people on the two sides.”


Negotiations are being carried out by semi-official bodies as Beijing’s communist administration, which seized power on the mainland in 1949, considers Taiwan part of its territory and refuses to recognise its autonomy.


The two days of talks, suspended since the mid-1990s, are resuming as part of a warming in relations that began with the election of Ma Ying-jeou as Taiwan‘s president in March.


Both sides have made it clear that contentious topics such as political issues and China‘s military spending would be kept off the negotiating table for now as they seek to build greater trust and understanding. 


Economic boost

The Beijing talks are expected to give Taiwan‘s economy a much-needed boost.

The island banned direct trade and transport exchanges with the mainland after the two sides split at the end of a civil war in 1949.

China-Taiwan relations

Taiwan split from mainland China at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949

Beijing regards Taiwan as part of its territory, and says it will use force to reclaim it if Taipei ever declares independence

Taiwan has been a multi-party democracy since 1996

Taiwan’s defence ministry says China now has nearly 1,000 missiles aimed at the island

The US is the major arms supplier to Taiwan and has warned China that any attack on the island would be viewed with “grave concern”

Since then Taiwan has also severely restricted visits by mainland Chinese.

Chiang Pin-kun, the island’s chief negotiator, who led the Taiwanese delegation to Beijing, said the aim of the talks was “to promote peace”.

“In the future, we hope the two sides can hold talks on mutual trust and create a win-win situation.”

Chiang said the team will also raise the issue of relief and reconstruction efforts for victims of the Sichuan earthquake during Thursday’s session.

Discussions could also help calm the angry rhetoric and military tensions that have made the Taiwan Strait one of the world’s most volatile regions.
“I want to remind you that we’re making history, which will have a far-reaching influence on Taiwan,” Ma said on Wednesday.

China regards self-ruled Taiwan as a renegade province and has repeatedly threatened to use force to stop any formal move towards independence.

The two countries first held direct talks in Singapore in 1993 but the Chinese side suspended the process two years later to protest against a visit to the US by Lee Teng-hui, Taiwan‘s president at the time.


Chinese and Taiwan ruling party leaders agreed last month to resume talks after they met in Beijing in the highest-level contact between the two sides since 1949.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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