China, Taiwan engage in first high-level talks in decades
Talks are first formal government-to-government dialogue since 1949 split
The meeting between Chinese and Taiwanese officials took place in an unadorned room in Nanjing. There were no flags or outward signs of national pride during the talks. The international community, however, said that the talks were most remarkable and almost unthinkable - China has insisted that Taiwan is part of their mainland, whereas Taiwan has steadfastly maintained its independence since the end of the Chinese civil war since 1949.
China and Taiwan hailed a new chapter in their relations on Tuesday and said their ties would advance after they held their highest-level government talks since they split amid civil war in 1949.
Chinese or Taiwanese officials didn't speak of any breakthroughs and differences between the two nations are marked. Beijing still considers Taiwan part of its territory, insisting that it must be reunited with the mainland - by military force, if necessary.
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However, since the election of Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou in 2008, relations between the sides have warmed considerably. Taiwan can't afford to ignore China which is the world's second largest economy.
China sees these talks as a useful opportunity to forge closer ties with Taiwan during a time when a relatively pro-Beijing president remains in power on the island.
"It's impossible to imagine in the past that we could sit here and meet," Zhang, head of mainland China's Taiwan Affairs Office, says. "We must have some imagination if [we want to] resolve some difficulties, not just for such a meeting, we should also have a bigger imagination for cross-strait future development," he added.
Wang, head of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, described the meeting as "a new chapter for cross-strait relations.
"For us to simply sit at the same table, sit down to discuss issues, is already not an easy thing."
Taiwan still calls itself the Republic of China and nominally claims the same territory as the Communist government in Beijing, although it does not press these claims.
The U.S. is committed to defending Taipei, despite not formally recognizing Taiwan as an independent country. The situation has created a decades-long military stand-off between Beijing and Washington.
Relations have improved since Taiwan's pro-Beijing President Ma Ying-jeou was elected in 2008. Cross-strait flights began in 2008, and tourists from the mainland have boosted Taiwan's economy.
Talks between China and Taiwan have been welcomed by Asia watchers.
"Face-to-face talks will help dispel suspicion between the two sides, given that messages passed through the two organizations are sometimes misinterpreted," Ni Yongjie, deputy director of the Shanghai Institute of Taiwan Studies, told newspaper reporters.
"The person responsible for cross-strait relations of both sides visiting each other and establishing a mechanism of communication confirms that the 'one-China framework' is beneficial for both parties in furthering understanding and deepening mutual trust ." People's Daily senior journalist Wu Yaming wrote.
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