China invited Taiwan on Thursday to quickly restart talks that have been suspended for over a decade, state media reported, the latest development in a dramatic thaw in tensions between the rivals.
The talks would be held in Beijing from June 11 to 14 and focus on establishing direct charter flights between the two sides, as well as allowing tourists on the mainland to travel to Taiwan, Xinhua news agency said.
“We hope the talks will make progress on the two issues to meet the expectations of people from both sides of the strait,” said the invitation letter from China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait.
The official invitation came a day after Chinese President Hu Jintao met the head of the island's ruling Kuomintang party, Wu Poh-hsiung, in Beijing — the highest-level contact since China and Taiwan split in 1949.
The Kuomintang's defeat of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan's presidential polls in March has led to the easing of tensions.
Ma Ying-jeou, who was sworn in as president last week, has taken a much more conciliatory approach with China than his predecessor, Chen Shui-bian, whose pro-independence rhetoric angered the mainland's communist leadership. In the letter, the Chinese association said the talks would be the start of regular consultations based on the so-called “1992 consensus”.
That was a guideline for talks that the mainland and Taiwan reached in 1992, in which each side could interpret the term ‘One China’ in its own way.
Based on that agreement, China and Taiwan held a landmark dialogue in 1993 in Singapore but the talks broke off in the 1990s amid bitter acrimony between Beijing and Taipei.
The two sides split at the end of a civil war in 1949 and China still claims Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification.