Updated: 05/07/2014 12:04 | By Agence France-Presse

China's Xi meets veteran Taiwan politician: Xinhua

   China's President Xi Jinping met longtime Taiwanese politician James Soong in Beijing on Wednesday, state media said, the latest step in incrementally improving ties in recent years.


China's Xi meets veteran Taiwan politician: Xinhua

Taiwan politician James Soong, shown in Taipei in 2012, has met China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing, China's state media says - by Sam Yeh

China's official news agency Xinhua described Xi as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, and Soong as chairman of Taiwan's People First Party, suggesting that the two met in their party rather than official capacities.

The meeting took place at the Great Hall of the People in the heart of the capital. 

Beijing regards Taiwan as a province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, although the two sides have been governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949.

Relations have thawed since the Kuomintang's Ma Ying-jeou became president of Taiwan in 2008 pledging to strengthen trade and tourism links. Ma was re-elected in 2012. 

In a symbolic yet historic move in February the two sides held their first government-to-government talks in 65 years. 

During the four-day visit Taipei's Wang Yu-chi, who oversees the island's China policy, met with his Beijing counterpart Zhang Zhijun in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing. 

But increased cross-Strait interaction has generated concern in Taiwan, which saw intense student-led demonstrations in recent weeks against a controversial services trade deal. 

Soong, a two-time presidential candidate, previously held senior posts in the Kuomintang. He met the then Chinese leader Hu Jintao in 2005.

In the 2012 polls, in which he took 2.8 percent of the vote, Soong pledged to become Taiwan's first president to visit China if elected.

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