04/07/2008, 00.00
TAIWAN - CHINA
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The vice president of Taiwan is going to China, and may meet with Hu Jintao

Vincent Siew will participate in the prestigious Boao Forum, together with Hu and various world leaders. Experts: Beijing thus shows it wants to "open up" to the new president of Taiwan.

Taipei (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The new Taiwanese vice president, Vincent Siew Wan-chang, will participate at the Boao Forum, which begins on April 11 in China, where he hopes to meet with Chinese president Hu Jintao.

Siew is seeking to minimise the importance of the event, telling a TV station that this is a strictly economic meeting, although at the highest level, and "I've already attended the Boao Forum five times".  He also says that he is going only as head of the Cross-Strait Common Market Foundation, without political aims.  But it is his first visit since Ma Ying-joeu of the Kuomintang party (KMT) was elected president, and Siew his vice president, in March.  In recent years, the KMT has fortified its relations with Beijing, which for its part was very critical toward the fiery separatism of former president Chen Shuibian, of the Democratic party. Both Ma and Siew have always expressed their hopes for a "normalisation" of relations with Beijing, and more economic trade.

At previous forums, Siew met with various Chinese leaders, and in 2004 he met with Hu during a welcoming dinner.  Official sources of the KMT maintain that a fresh meeting is "very likely".  Joining Siew will be other economic representatives, but also members of Ma's staff, like Su Chi, his adviser on cross-strait relations.

Chang Ling-chen, professor of political science at the National University of Taiwan, maintains that this trip constitutes an openness on the part of China toward the KMT, because otherwise Beijing would not have allowed the vice president of Taiwan to participate in the forum, not even in an unofficial capacity.  The Boao Forum is held every year in Hainan, bringing economic and political experts together to discuss commercial cooperation in Asia.  In addition to Hu, there will also be Australian prime minister Kevid Rudd, presidents Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan and Michelle Bachelet of Chile, Kazakh prime minister Karim Masimov, former U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell, and chief executive of Hong Kong Donald Tsang.

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