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China's Hu meets Taiwan's VP-elect in landmark encounter PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 13 April 2008

AFP, BOAO - Chinese President Hu Jintao met here Saturday with Taiwan's vice president-elect Vincent Siew, according to a pool report, in the highest-level contact ever between the two sides.

The meeting is being viewed as the first major test of the ability of the incoming administration in Taiwan to improve relations with China, from which it split in 1949 after a civil war.

Siew, a former premier, has not yet assumed office, and was to meet Hu as head of a Taiwanese delegation visiting the southern Chinese island of Hainan for a regional forum.

"I'm an old hand on Taiwan's economic issues," Siew told Hu when they met, according to the report. "I hope we can strengthen economic cooperation."

Hu shook the hands of the entire delegation. Siew has attended the Boao forum five times in the past in the same role as delegation chairman, and has met Hu there. However, this time was seen as symbolically more significant because he is about to take office as vice president following last month's election.

China still claims sovereignty over the self-ruling island and has always refused to give its leaders any recognition that could be seen as recognising sovereignty.

The incoming government in Taiwan has pledged to improve relations with the mainland, increase bilateral trade, tourism and transport links and work on a peace treaty to end hostilities.

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