02/04/2005, 00.00
CHINA-TAIWAN
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Taiwanese President invites top Beijing official

Chen Shui-bian makes an overture to Beijing whilst trying to divide domestic opposition.

Taipei (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian invited Wang Dahoan, chairman of mainland China's Association for Relations across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), to visit the island.

Sun Yafu and Li Yafei, Mr Wang's closest aides, attended on his behalf the funeral of Koo Chen-fu, former chairman of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF). They were the first mainland envoys to visit the island since 1999.

President Chen's invitation and the participation of Beijing's envoys to the funeral come as further signs that a thaw in the relations between the two countries is in the making.

The political climate on the island is also getting warmer. James Soong Chu-yu, chairman of Taiwan's People First Party (PFP), announced that he would visit the President over Chinese New Year (February 9).

Mr Chen has repeatedly extended olive branches to the PFP with the intention of breaking the latter's alliance with the Kuomintang. Hitherto, Mr Soong had refused to meet the President since his re-election.

Mr Chen had gone as far as offering the Mr Soong and the PFP cabinet posts, to no avail thus far.

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