Chinese President Hu Jintao called for peaceful relations with Taiwan as he met the head of the island’s ruling party on Wednesday in the highest-level contact since the two sides split in 1949.
Putting aside decades of tensions that have made the Taiwan Strait one of the world’s potential flashpoints, Hu shook hands with Kuomintang (KMT) chairman Wu Poh-hsiung during a red carpet welcome at the Great Hall of the People.
The pair then posed with their accompanying delegations for an historic photograph before heading into their meeting, with the events broadcast on China’s state-controlled television.
“Based on the past exchanges and communications between the two parties, and under the new situation, I hope we can promote cross-strait relations, exchange our opinions and look to the future, and push forward the peaceful development of cross-strait relations,” Hu said.
Wu in turn said the Chinese and Taiwanese should make sure that their people never take up arms against each other again, in comments that also touched on the massive earthquake in China's southwest this month.
“We cannot guarantee there won’t be any natural disasters any more on both sides of the straits, but through our mutual efforts, we can ensure there is no war,” he said.