Taiwan Kuomintang Party leader Lien Chan meets Hu Jintao in a historical visit to China

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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Map showing relative locations and sizes of mainland China and the island of Taiwan (see lower right) Source: CIA World Factbook

Lien Chan, chairman of Chinese Kuomintang (KMT), the leading opposition party in Taiwan, met Hu Jintao, Communist Party of China General Secretary, in the Chinese People's Hall in Beijing, China on Friday. Lien called his visit a step on the "historical bus" toward a "journey of peace".

The week-long visit takes place 56 years after the KMT withdrawal from mainland China, and signals the end of hostilities between the KMT (or Nationalist Party) and CPC. From 1926 to 1949, the two parties were involved in a bloody civil war resulting in the Nationalist retreat to Taiwan upon their defeat in 1949.

This is the highest level exchange between the two parties since KMT leader Chiang Kai-shek and CPC leader Mao Zedong met in Chongqing at the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War in August 1945. Chiang, then the Chinese head of state, and Mao, then a guerrila leader, tried to negotiate a truce at the meeting. The negotiations fails and all-out war soon ensued.

Lien called on the Taiwanese (ROC) government, led the independence-leaning President Chen Shui-bian, to follow his meeting with more efforts at peacemaking and suppression of the independence movement. "I believe the door has been opened," said Lien. "How to walk towards a new future, towards a new outlook - I think the ruling party must shoulder this responsibility."

"This is a historic meeting between the leaders of our two parties," Hu said after the historic televised handshake with Lien on Friday marking the formal end of hostilities. "As long as both sides place importance on the interests of the Chinese nation, on the common prosperity of the compatriots on both sides of the strait, we will be able to overcome our differences." Lien's visit to mainland China was in part prompted by the mainland National People's Congress's recent passage of a law against the possible secession by Taiwan, including the possible use of "nonpeaceful means" which could imply military force, a move that has increased tension between their two countries.

Lien's visit to mainland China was strongly opposed by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang, who expressed both "tears" and "rage" at the stance taken by Lien. Su said, "Lien has fully denied the development and the value of Taiwan's democracy, but continued praised China... During Lien's visit to China, we have seen that Lien took part in various banquets, shook hands with Chinese leaders and received gifts. But we didn't see that Lien has strongly criticized China for passing the anti-secession law. Lien neither voiced opposition against China's missiles targeting at Taiwan, nor did he oppose against China's military threat against Taiwan."

The agreements made by Lien will only take effect if ratified by Taiwan's government (which is unlikely, since President Chen opposes the accord and favors Taiwanese independence), or if the Nationalists regain control of the government in future elections.