China, Taiwan move closer to resuming routine talks

SHANGHAI, China (AP) — China and Taiwan agreed to work toward repairing their shattered dialogue in a deal sealed Thursday over convivial cups of tea — the most significant step since Beijing canceled talks three years ago.
Two elder statesmen charged with shepherding ties in the absence of formal diplomatic channels met at a swanky Shanghai hotel. With their wives seated by them at a small round table, Taiwan’s top envoy to the mainland, Koo Chen-fu, invited his Chinese counterpart, Wang Daohan, to visit Taipei, and Wang agreed.
The informality of the talk and the setting belied the importance of their achievement. Political heirs to a seven-decade-old Chinese civil war, China and Taiwan have rarely compromised since Mao Tse-tung’s Communists pushed Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists off the mainland in 1949.
After Taiwan’s Lee Teng-hui made the first-ever visit by a Taiwanese president to the United States in 1995, Beijing scrubbed a 2-year-old dialogue and launched intimidating war games near the island. Relations plunged to their lowest level since the height of the Cold War.
Thursday’s agreement — essentially to talk about more formal talks — came on the second of two days of meetings between Wang and Koo, their first since an initial meeting in Singapore five years ago.
Under the four-point deal, members of the two government-backed bodies that Wang and Koo head will hold discussions on all matters. Wang’s chief aide, Tang Shubei, said the talks would cover political matters, a euphemism for reunification — a subject Beijing has long sought to put on the agenda.