Xi signals China wants political dialogue with Taiwan: scholars

Taipei, Oct. 6 (CNA) Chinese President Xi Jinping sent "a new message" Sunday when he expressed a willingness to engage Taiwan in political dialogue, a Taiwanese scholar said, adding that "the ball is now back in Taiwan's court." Xi's comment that China is willing to "make reasonable arrangements" on cross-Taiwan Strait political issues represents a formal expression of eagerness for political negotiations on the question of each side's respective status, said Yang Kai-huang, a professor at Taipei's Ming Chuan University. It indicates Beijing's hopes that things can "move into deeper waters during President Ma Ying-jeou's term instead of remaining where we are now," said Yang. Ma's second presidential term will come to an end in May 2016. Xi's comment came Sunday during a meeting with Taiwan's former Vice President Vincent Siew in Bali, Indonesia, on the sidelines of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. Siew is attending the APEC meeting as Ma's envoy. Two developments there came ahead of the Taiwanese academics' expectations, Yang said, citing Xi's statement that the heads of relevant departments "can meet and exchange ideas" as the first. The second happened in a meeting between China's Zhang Zhijun, head of the Taiwan Affairs Office, and his Taiwanese counterpart, Mainland Affairs Council head Wang Yu-chi, in which both addressed each other by their respective official titles. In an unprecedented encounter, Zhang and Wang sat in on a meeting between Xi and Siew and later chatted in a hotel lobby. Chang Ya-chung, a political scholar at National Taiwan University, also believes that Xi's remarks indicate aspirations of political dialogue with Taiwan. "The message Beijing wants to send is this: 'We can start political negotiations,'" Chang said. (By Eva Feng and Jay Chen)