Beijing urges closer Taiwan ties
Chinese President Hu Jintao has called for closer economic and cultural exchanges between China and Taiwan.
Mr Hu was speaking at a China-Taiwan forum in Beijing, aimed at improving ties between the two rival neighbours.
More than 30 MPs from Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), are taking part in the two-day event.
It comes just days after Taiwan, seen by China as part of its territory, rejected Beijing’s plan for the Olympic torch to pass through the island.
President Hu told some 500 participants at the forum that China’s economic growth offered more opportunities for better exchanges between China and Taiwan, China’s official Xinhua news agency said.
Mr Hu said this would benefit both sides and help "curb Taiwan secessionist activities and maintain peace across the Taiwan Strait".
A large group of Taiwan’s business leaders is also taking part in the forum.
The gathering is the third of its kind since a visit to China by former KMT head Lien Chan in 2005.
He was the first party chairman to return to the mainland since the KMT fled to Taiwan after losing the Chinese civil war more than 50 years ago.
But the meeting is being overshadowed by the row whether the Olympic torch should travel through Taiwan before arriving in China for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
On Thursday, Taiwan’s authorities rejected China’s plans for the torch to pass through the island as part of a domestic – rather than international – route.
China wants the torch to go from Taiwan to Hong Kong on its way to Beijing.
But Taipei said the plan was unacceptable and compromised the island’s sovereignty.
In response, China expressed its surprise over Taipei’s rejection of the plan.
The executive vice-president of the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, Jiang Xiaoyu, said Taiwan’s decision "breached the principle of separating sport from politics as enshrined in the Olympic charter".
Taiwan and China have been ruled by separate governments since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.
The authorities in Beijing regard Taiwan as a breakaway province that should be reunited with the rest of China – by force if necessary.
For the Olympics, the island is referred to as Chinese Taipei.
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