Historic Talks Bring China, Taiwan Closer Than Ever

First high-level talks since 1949 yield trade agreements amid opposition protests
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 4, 2008 8:53 AM CST
China's top negotiator with Taiwan, Chen Yunlin, offers water to his Taiwan counterpart Chiang Ping-kung, unseen, at a meeting in Taipei, Taiwan, today.   (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
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(Newser) – The first high-level talks between China and Taiwan in 60 years have set aside politics in favor of building trade ties, Reuters reports. Negotiations in Taipei sidestepped the sovereignty question and yielded 13 agreements to triple the number of cross-strait flights, allow direct cargo shipments, improve food safety, and normalize financial relations between the once-hostile neighbors.

Cross-strait ties have thawed rapidly since Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou was elected this year, but pro-independence groups worry things are moving too fast. The arrival of China's envoy—the highest ranking Chinese official to visit Taiwan since the Communists sent their defeated rivals fleeing over the strait in 1949—was marked by thousands of protesters accusing Ma of selling out the island.