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Last Updated: Monday, 9 May, 2005, 17:32 GMT 18:32 UK
What next for China and Taiwan?
Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian with by foreign minister Chen Tan-shan on their Pacific tour
A second Taiwanese opposition leader is visiting China, just days after the head of the Nationalist Kuomintang party (KMT) returned from a similar trip.

Leaving Taiwan on Thursday, James Soong, of the People First Party (PFP), said he hoped to "build a bridge of mutual trust" with China.

Beijing, in a goodwill gesture to the KMT's Lien Chan during his trip, offered Taiwan two giant pandas, considered to be China's ultimate diplomatic gesture.

The Taiwanese government says it has yet to decide whether or not to accept the animals.

What is your reaction to the visit? How will it affect relations between China and Taiwan? What influence will they have on the region as a whole?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

The simple truth is that Taiwan cannot achieve independence without US support
June, London
The simple truth is that Taiwan cannot achieve independence without US support, and the pro-independence camp has been in utter denial about this. But what would it mean to become a poodle country despite the nominal independence, if such an aspiration is indeed materialised?
June, London

I am a Chinese American and I just want to point out that China Taiwan situation is unlike any other; so no comparisons please. I prefer a united China. And I think the visit by Lien Chan is a good start. Can you imagine the day Chen Shui-bian runs for the President of a united China?
Cheng, Providence, RI USA

Open minded communication is the only way to provide people with peace and a good life across the Taiwan Strait.
Smith, Taiwan, ROC

Both visits to China, Lien's and Soong's, are completely irrelevant, and are indicative of the state of the Taiwanese opposition parties, ie total desperation and an ongoing disregard for the people they supposedly represent. This visit is comparable to resuscitating Eisenhower and sending him to China. It's about that relevant.
Regan Tyndall, Vancouver, Canada

It's a shame China uses its endangered pandas as a political tool
C M Liu, Boston, USA
It's a shame China uses its endangered pandas as a political tool. As such, Taiwan should insist on debriefing those pandas and make sure they understand that there is one country on each side before accepting them.
C M Liu, Boston, USA

Taiwan should not accept pandas from China. The gesture of giving two pandas to Taiwan is part of the China's political propaganda. Besides, pandas should be protected in wild, where they duly belong.
Wunan Lin, Castro Valley, CA, USA

Taiwanese government should accept the pandas as a goodwill gift. Then, send these pandas to Japan as a thank you gift because Japan is willing to help Taiwan if mainland try to invade.
Jason Tai, Taipei, Taiwan

China gives presents in order to receive something else in return; cynical, but true. However, they traditionally give pandas to other nations they wish to do deals with. Consequently, Chen should accept the pandas as a sign that the PRC now acknowledges Taiwanese independence.
Andy, UK

The use of endangered species as political tokens is shameful
Stephen, England
The use of endangered species as political tokens is shameful. What does the Chinese government believe this will really achieve?
Stephen, England

China is now acting like a big brother and is just so demanding. At first, China wanted Hong Kong and she got it, even though they were protests from the people of Hong Kong. And now, she wants Taiwan which causes great uproar. Let the people of Taiwan have independence. Japan has done nothing wrong! Japan is the second biggest contributor to the United Nations aid and it is also the second biggest economic power in the world. Please stop China from growing into a super power and threatening us all!

We are glad to see China to be bettering in economic and political as a neighboring country, but it doesn't means we need to reunite with them, especially as China is still an autocratic government and trying to attack Taiwan with the missiles. China is China, an autocratic government; Taiwan is Taiwan, a democratic country. There is not any possibility to be reunited, please understand the reality!
HC, Taiwan

I don't think China cares. This Fiji visit is not going to change Taiwan's status as there are only 25 countries that have diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Chen should work on improving the relationship with China, that will definitely benefit Taiwan's people.
Sarah Meng, Tokyo, Japan

The funniest thing of this piece of news is the cowardice of the governing party in Taiwan
Wallace Sun, London
The funniest thing of this piece of news is the cowardice of the governing party in Taiwan. Through the things we have experienced we know peacemaking is a long process, however someone will have to make a start.
Wallace Sun, London

Sadly, I found most Chinese people in this forum take Taiwan as a part of their territory instead of facing the truth that Taiwan has been a country since 1949. Through election, Taiwan has her own president and congress, and of course, military force. On a basis of country to country, people in Taiwan would be more than happy to see a normal and friendly relationship built between two sides. However, any military threat and diplomatic games are not welcome and would achieve nothing.
Jean Chen, Taipei, Taiwan

People should not be blinded by the terms "democracy" or "communism". The only thing that matters is the interests of the nations including US, China, Japan, etc. The US is more interested in the money they can get from the arm sales to Taiwan than Taiwan's democracy. If the US really wants to help to maintain the balance, why not just give their most advanced weapons to Taiwan for free?
Wu Yuan, Singapore/China

Most Chinese people would like to see a united China. The last thing they would want is their country remaining divided. Although there are still difficult questions rooted in history that need to be solved, I just hope that the day will come when we do not have to decide what name to use when referring to our mother country.
Ray Ho, Hong Kong

What matters is not the rhetoric independence of Taiwan but the strategic position of it
Hui, Shanghai, China

According to me, what matters is not the rhetoric independence of Taiwan but the strategic position of it. The small island is a military base of USA and Japan. Does Taiwan dare to declare independence without the backup of the USA and Japan? It is all about power struggles and balance between big nation states. Personally I don't care about the status of Taiwan.

I feel ashamed to be compatriot with those Taiwanese who would rather to be Japanese. What the mainland should do is to make ourself strong enough, both economically and militarily, to defy the threats from the US and Japan. Historically seeing, when China is in prosperity, Taiwan is always a part of China's territory.
Hui, Shanghai, China

My father's cousin fled to Taiwan with KMT from Shanghai. We lost contact since. Somehow, I still feel very close to Taiwan, not just because we share the same root, but also people in Taiwan keep more genuine Chinese tradition and culture. Compared to us on the mainland, the people in Taiwan are more Chinese.

I am very disappointed that some people in Taiwan turned their disappointment and anger with CCP into willingness of claiming independence. We are the same Chinese people, after all. For some people who don't seem to know the whole context, I want to remind them, the un-resolved matter is a result of civil war. Still, there is no treaty to officially end the civil war yet.
Jun Pan, Ottawa, Canada

To those people who are dreaming of claiming Taiwan's independence: please wake up as soon as possible, your sweet dream is going to become a nightmare!
Li Ruoxi, Changchun, China

Any attempt at easing the tensions in the Taiwan Strait should be welcomed
Tim Tjon, Amsterdam
Any attempt at easing the tensions in the Taiwan Strait should be welcomed. The last thing Asia and the world needs is the situation to get out of hand.
Tim Tjon, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Just two words: sore loser. Lien has lost his bid for presidency twice and yet refuses to accept the fact that Taiwanese people do not think he should be representing them. This trip is just a pathetic attempt to undermine a democratically-elected government. Lien as a private citizen has no right to represent Taiwan nor its people.
Marisa, Sunnyvale, CA

Peaceful negotiations are better than war. There are no winners when a war begins over the Taiwan Straits.
Charles H Y Chiam, Malacca, Malaysia

As a Taiwanese, I am delighted to see both sides across the strait beginning to hold peace talks. We give our strong support to anything that will promote the relationships between China and Taiwan.
Albert Yang, Taipei, Taiwan

One can only image PRC's reaction if Taiwan were to receive the Dalai Lama as head of the state of Tibet
Robert Arisz, Amsterdam

Although most people welcome peaceful dialogue, it is very inappropriate to hold state-to-state talks with a leader of the opposition instead of the elected leader. One can only image PRC's reaction if Taiwan were to receive the Dalai Lama as head of the state of Tibet. It is now clear that one candidate seeks more formal independence and the other more unification. Let the Taiwanese endorse who they want to deal with Beijing.
Robert Arisz, Amsterdam

In my point of view, the future will be promising if it is achieved through the language of democracy, not any anti-secession law such an expression. For now, we have to take a break and concentrate on the coming election for revising the obsolete constitution of Taiwan. We need more direct political right to excise and monitor the government and the politicians.
Rose Lai, Taipei, Taiwan

The forum is quite boring with only one side's opinions

Obviously, most mainland Chinese people can not access BBC from their censored internet. The forum is quite boring with only one side's opinions. Since 1949 the PRC has made quite a few mistakes such as fighting the Korean War, the Great Leap Backward and the Great Culture Revolution, which result in a richer, freer and still independent Taiwan. However, now, things look a little different. Given some time, 20 years or so, the Chinese could have the economical, political and military power enough to confront the US.

Splitting from the mainland at that time will be too late for the Taiwanese; hence it is understandable why Mr Chen is pushing for independence. From the mainland's point of view, as long as they can undermine Mr Chen's effort and to prevent from the island getting separated, they will live with the status quo and gaining power to make up the time they have lost. So in my eyes, the mainland's carrot and stick strategy is working and for the Taiwanese it will be best to gain independence ASAP, not the status quo.

Being a Canadian expat living in Taiwan, I generally try to keep my nose out of local political affairs. In Taiwan, there seems to be a big split between those who support the nationalist president in his symbolic speeches and moves towards official independence, and those who support the status quo. Almost every Taiwanese person I know enjoys the notion of independence, but not at the cost of having to fight a losing military battle with the most populated nation in the world.
Christopher Canal, Taipei, Taiwan

The sensible side of the majority would agree that maintaining the status quo serves the best interests of both sides.
JZ, Surrey, UK

I think that it is a good thing that the Chinese and the Taiwanese governments can have a productive dialogue
J Miner, San Francisco
I think that it is a good thing that the Chinese and the Taiwanese governments can have a productive dialogue, even if it is only with the minority leader from Taiwan and not the head of government. A war between these two countries would be a global disaster.
J Miner, San Francisco, USA

Lien's obsession with the limelight has brought even more uncertainty to the China Taiwan relations. Granted Chen's government is in the pothole right now, Lien's visit is an obvious self-aggrandizing move and has nothing to be with increasing peace between the two countries. I think Hu just found his new puppet! How about keep the pandas, and while at it, keep the missiles away from Taiwan too!
Jenny, Taipei, Taiwan

As a young mainland Chinese, I don't want to see a war. However, given the rising tension between the two sides, and especially young mainlanders' increasing sentiment of nationalism, I think a war is unavoidable, if Taiwan declares its independence. I hope the talk of Lien Chan will help to maintain the status quo and show Taiwanese that keeping status quo is not a good option. After all, we share the same culture and history. Let's not have a fight even in an inharmonious family.
Jay Zhang, Shanghai

Lien's visit to China had the right motivation but at the wrong time.
Michael Lin, Taiwan

It is not true that Chen has backed himself into a corner, as he has asked for talks with Beijing for years. Now that the CCP has met Lien, the ball is in their court. If they meet with Chen, he gains political standing in Taiwan. If they don't, he can claim they only want to meet with the people they want to be in charge. That would hardly encourage Taiwanese people to support reunification, would it?
Frank, York, UK

I strongly condemn those people from Taiwan who call themselves Taiwanese
Xiao Yao, Chengdu, China

It looks very promising that the problem will be solved when they talk and exchange gifts. Personally, I really hate to see the war. However I strongly condemn those people from Taiwan who call themselves Taiwanese. I am from Chengdu in China. In 1949, my grandma's brother-in-law who was a Kuomingdang official, fled to Taiwan and left his wife in Chengdu. He came back to Chengdu several times to see her. Can he call himself Chinese or Taiwanese?
Xiao Yao, Chengdu, China

At least, the meeting between Lien and Hu is the first sign of long-due reconciliation, which might probably stop Chen from playing the China trouble card and manipulate the result in the future elections. I praise Lien for taking such a bold step amid calls of being a traitor, even in this forum. It shows he cares for the peace and stability of Taiwan while Chen doesn't.
Chris, Taipei, Taiwan

There is no reason for Taiwan to unite with an authoritarian China. Nevertheless, talks are needed in order for Taiwan to peacefully gain formal independence. But Beijing should talk with the real leader Chen on a state-to-state level, not with the wannabe Lien.
Joe T, Tainan, Taiwan

I would say it's a pseudo-goodwill gesture. Chinese government definitely know what people in Taiwan really want, they just don't want to face it. Moving those missiles pointing at Taiwan would be more touching than giving these so-called gifts.
Ray, Taipei

Although many people doubt this historical meeting, the majority of Taiwan people tend to support this decision, before and after according to the poll test. I can understand why some Taiwan people are eager to be independent, but it seems like Chen Shui-bian's government doesn't handle this issue in a rational way. I'd like to see these politicians have some constructive policies rather than seeing them splitting people in Taiwan.
Yhsing, Taipei, Taiwan

China's approach to Taiwan is very outdated and self-deceptive
Haogan, China

China's approach to Taiwan is very outdated and self-deceptive. The core issue was not if the Taiwanese and Chinese people were getting along. Rather they both wanted to be seen on an equal foot which China refuses. The only solution for Taiwan is that China recognize the island's political entity and get some kind of unification deal that involve both internal reform such as democratizing China and an external deal, including respecting the rights of the Taiwanese people. The EU model is a good one for a future China and Taiwan solution.
Haogan, China

China is taking the famous carrot and stick approach. The anti-session law authorizing the use of military force in the event of a Taiwanese declaration of independence was the stick. Now these Pandas and overtures to Taiwan are part of the carrot meant to motivate Taiwan back into the fold. The question is what do the Taiwanese want more: the right to self determination, or peace with their rising neighbour?
Ralph Barbour, Gwangju, Korea

Well done! I am from Ningbo where it is hometown of the Kuomintang (KMT) party leader. My grandparents are KMT members, and my grandpa's brother went to Taiwan with the KMT in 1949. We lost contact then. For us, Taiwan is a place we feel close to. I would like to see Taiwan coming back to China peacefully and willingly, I think the only resort is to make us more attractive, develop economic further and other aspects and this is what the communist part is doing. Let's keep the current situation. It will give us time to improve ourselves further till the day we have the chance to embrace the missing bit of the jigsaw returning home.
Yazhuo Ye, Ningbo, China

If Lien Chan wants peace, he should start in Taiwan. He has been instrumental in causing more than a few violent protests in Taiwan - to contest President Chen's presidency. Lien Chan's return to China was nothing short of a betrayal to the Taiwanese people he claims to serve whole-heartedly. Taiwanese do want peace - but not at the expense of our dignity and sovereignty.
NG, Melbourne Australia

I am surprised at the number of responses that bring up the issue of Chinese identity. If Taiwan becomes independent, it will still be Chinese, just not mainland Chinese. The issue of speaking, writing and sharing a culture does not mean it is part of a country - New Zealand, Australia and North America share British cultural values, but no-one suggests that they are part of Britain. Chinese is spoken in Singapore - are we to assume China will claim Singapore as its own? If people are different, does this mean they are not part of China, like Tibetans (who, we are told, are Chinese)? The Communist party is playing on out-dated and out-moded nationalist concepts in order to make its view seen as correct. What would the world say if Britain asserted that its English speaking former colonies submitted to Westminster?
Mike, Auckland, NZ

I think there won't be any change if China still insists on a one-China policy. The talks itself should be encouraged but why has China spoken to the opposition party instead of the ruling party? It is simply a conspiracy to disunite Taiwan.
Chris, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Pandas for freedom? No thank you
Christopher, Philippines

These talks were a farce. China will not be happy until each and every Taiwanese citizen has agreed to forgo their democratic rights and become a good card-carrying communist. And don't believe this rubbish about "one country, two systems", - does it work? Just ask the people of Hong Kong. Pandas for freedom? No thank you.
Christopher W Whybrow, Baguio City, Philippines

I'm a fifth generation Taiwanese married to an Australian. It saddens me to hear comments about how Taiwan should be reunited with China because we share the same culture etc. I certainly hope that those people are not suggesting China should try to invade Singapore, or that England should try to conquer America for the same reason? Humbly, I'd like to urge those in Taiwan who still call China home (not the ones who have come to love and respect Taiwan since 1949), perhaps you should consider going 'home' and leave Taiwan to people who genuinely care for that beautiful island.
Belinda L, Victoria, Australia

The fact that Lien lost twice in the presidential election means he does not represent the true will of the Taiwan people. Obviously, the meaning of this talk was overstated. Yes, we all agree Taiwan and China need more talks to reduce hostility. But please talk on the base of government to government, and without 700 missiles pointing at Taiwan!
Ray, Taipei

Though it is only a small step without any substantial result it gives us hope of a peaceful future. That is the most important thing for most of the people on this island.
David Yuan, Hsinchu Taiwan

Why shouldn't we start talking with China? Why are we so scared?
Crystal Chen, Taipei, Taiwan
Lien's trip highlights the long-term tensions underlying the Taiwanese society. I think it's more than good enough to bravely step out and let this be revealed rather than pretending nothing is there. Why shouldn't we start talking with China? Why are we so scared? Does staying in confrontation with China do any good to Taiwan?
Crystal Chen, Taipei, Taiwan

As a citizen of Taiwan, I strongly protest against the visit of Lien and Hu and the so called "Press Communique" signed between both parties. Lien is sacrificing the sovereignty of Taiwan and becoming a traitor to our country. I am certain that with the wisdom of the Taiwanese people his party will be punished at the next election.
Justin Cheng, Taipei, Taiwan.

I see many comments from PRC citizens or people who consider themselves Chinese, who think Taiwan should 'reunite' and join as 'brothers'. So why does China threaten Taiwan with hundreds of missiles and overwhelming destruction if it declares independence? I believe the Chinese have a long way to go get the chip off their shoulder for the last one hundred years of humiliation by foreign powers, and that is very dangerous.
Fquinlan, Taipei, Taiwan

Lien Chan's visit to China is part of KMT's strategy to ensure long-term survival and establishing future political power within Taiwan by appeasing China today. The KMT is positioning itself as the spokes party for the Taiwanese people in negotiating with China in its power struggle with the ruling party, which takes a more defensive stand against China's aggression. I highly doubt these KMT figureheads have the best interest of people in Taiwan at heart.
Steve Chen, Branchburg, NJ USA

Hopefully this historical meeting will bring two governments together for some meaningful talks
Sheng Ding, Dallas, USA
It is the first step in the right direction. Hopefully this historical meeting will bring two governments together for some meaningful talks to promote mutual interests rather than hostility. But unification still has a long way to go.
Sheng Ding, Dallas, USA

I am a Taiwanese, and I only want to point out a plain truth, "Taiwan people have the right to decide their own future". Lien Chan lost in the presidential election of 2004. This clearly showed that most Taiwan people didn't agree with him. Now he goes to China and pretends he can represent most of the people of Taiwan, what a shame of him. Lien Chan not only betrayed Taiwan but also betrayed those people who believe in democracy in China. He should help people in China to overthrow the current bad government instead of pulling Taiwan into it, if he really wants to contribute something good to China. That's my comment.
Jerry, Atlanta, GA

As a Chinese originally from PRC, to be frank, I don't mind if Taiwan declares itself as an independent country (although I prefer the unification). Having controlled their own affairs for over 50 years, they may have the choice to be free. However, I hate any people from this island who might say he is not Chinese. Instead, he is a Taiwanese or a Japanese.
Wong, USA

It is a historic milestone for both parties. From this visit, we can see the prospective. It is a very positive trip but also a peace trip.
WaiChun Chow, PR China

I cannot trust that the Lien and Hu meeting will benefit Taiwanese people
DW, Taichung, Taiwan
I cannot trust that the Lien and Hu meeting will benefit Taiwanese people. On the one hand Mr Lien does not respect the results of Taiwan's presidential election; on the other, the Hu government did not show amiability to Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian. Two parties that are not endorsed by the Taiwanese people shaking hands on issue about Taiwan. I am uneasy about its implication.
DW, Taichung, Taiwan

The meeting may not mean any material things. But every effort that is made to help to maintain the peace is worthwhile.
X Tan, Manchester, UK

It's foolish to assume that these talks are politically motivated. Taiwan independence is a far-fetched dream, and Lien is doing the right thing by looking for peaceful and realistic ways to solve the crisis between Taiwan and China.
Ting, NY, USA

It is sad for me to hear that some people from Taiwan speak/write Chinese as their native language and live in Chinese culture, but deny themselves as Chinese. I truly wish all Chinese people will be united one day. No one wants war, and Lien's trip is a boost for peace across the strait.
Lawrence Yu, Austin, USA

I believe that Lien's meeting with Hu is a positive step to peace and future cooperation. There are a lot of Taiwanese that fear and distrust China, but the truth of the matter is that if Taiwan was under attack, China would fully defend it and its troops would be ready to die to protect Taiwan. We share the same heritage, language, writing, and culture. Also it is economically beneficial for Taiwan to reunite with China. Taiwan needs China more than China needs Taiwan. Just look at the financial figures.
Claire Lin, Diamond Bar, USA

The talks are a good direction to go in
L, Seattle, USA
Being Taiwanese myself, I think the talks are a good direction to go in, but as many people have pointed out already, they need to be on a government to government basis. I think Taiwan's best option is to stick to the status-quo, as the current situation serves the island's interest the best. Taiwan has operated perfectly fine as an independent state for the past few decades despite little international recognition and officially pursuing independence is not a realistic option either. The reality is that Taiwanese needs China economically and what people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait want is peace and not war.
L, Seattle, USA

China has been playing two-hand strategy toward Taiwan. They seek peace and stability in cross-strait relation but paradoxically anti-secession law allows non-peaceful means. As a Taiwanese, I don't feel sincerity or respect for our opinion from China.
I. Hsang Lin, Taipei, Taiwan

These talks are meaningful. Sadly both sides will find that they can never reach an agreement on the core and the most sensitive issue - political difference.
Chris Lo, Hong Kong

Lien Chan is sacrificing Taiwan's sovereignty for his own political interests. As a democratic developed country, Taiwan should stand more firmly for independence instead of being ruled by Chinese Communists.
Rebecca Lin, Taipei, Taiwan

The political-historical significance of this meeting is overrated
YL, Taipei, Taiwan
I think the political-historical significance of this meeting is overrated. Lien Chan, after all, has never been elected as a president and his actions should not be considered as politically meaningful.
YL, Taipei, Taiwan

The reality is there is currently One China but two Chinese governments. The KMT is right and the majority of Taiwanese share the same sentiment - that is to increase trade and business and reunification only with a democratic China.
Henry Lee, Taipei, Taiwan

Nothing constructive will come of the meeting, it's only a political show put up by both parties. For Hu, it is a gesture to undermine the current ruling party in Taiwan lead by Chen Shui-bian. For Lien, it is probably the last card he could play to try to gain back some political significance for the deteriorating Kuomintang Party in Taiwan.
Sam, Hawaii USA

This is the mature and sensible step which both sides of the Strait have been looking for years. Let the world remember that blood is always thicker than water. This is the major step forward towards a peaceful reunification.
Kwok Ho, Sydney Australia.

Seems to me that the matter is about money given the global market and maintaining a world peace. With this I can't believe Taiwan will ever become part of China, but normalisation of relationships with Taiwan could bring in stronger investments from them into China.
Mack Carter, Seattle, USA

Why would the Chinese Central Government want to control daily life in Taiwan anyway? Unification is more about an ideal that China is one country, not to mention the added strategic benefits of not having a US "ally" in our backyard. It is unrealistic to say that China has intentions on other SE Asia countries. China is big enough, and I don't think we are going to go down the route of expansion to gain natural resources. Let's not forget that Alaska and Hawaii are not exactly close to the continental US, but are somehow American states. I think the big kid in the block wants to stay the only big kid.
S. Zhang, Cambridge, UK

China and Taiwan have no choice but to talk for reconciliation
Brook Chen, New York City

China and Taiwan have no choice but to talk for reconciliation. And despite their political differences, leaders of both sides deeply comprehend that war is a dead end road for both Taipei and Beijing.
Brook Chen, New York City

Talking of friendship, co-operation is a more effective means of developing mutual benefits than bearing arms. Thumbs up for Hu and Lien for keeping on with the forward and peaceful steps.
Derek Tsang, Edmonton, Canada

If only both sides were earnest in putting the good of the people of China into foremost consideration, unification would be quite easy. What Mainland China needs to do is embark for true democracy, while Taiwan must give up attempt of heading toward dead alley of independence.
John Wu, San Francisco, USA

My dream is to see a united China and let KMT back to mainland China to form the opposition party.
Jinfu Li, London

Lien Chan's visit may create expectations in Peking that he himself may not wish to raise
Franz, Germany
What is the real goal of these talks? Lien Chan's visit may create expectations in Peking that he himself may not wish to raise. The way China's government honours or violates the "one country, two systems" formula in Hong Kong should be the standard to judge its viability for Taiwan. How much leverage does Taipei have? Only the US can tell. Will they stand by Taiwan, if needed?
Franz, Germany

Behind the eye-catching headlines, one must stop to consider the motivations of the men involved: One to claim authority over Taiwan forcefully or otherwise, the other desperately trying to create legacy in his name after two failed presidential bids back-to-back.
Anonymous, Sydney, Australia

For all practical definitions and international justification Taiwan, despite the Chinese origin of its current majority people, is an independent state and independent culture. It is extremely dangerous to give in an inch to the current Chinese government. It is an imperialistic and expansionistic government with no limit in its hunger to swallow any area where any Chinese ever visited. This is good to remember but so easy to forget. China would be quite an OK country provided they gave out the colonized territories like Tibet, stopped military threats to countries like Taiwan and gave up all the hidden territorial claims that are waiting in the claims queue.
Istvan Hunanui, Chisinau, Moldova

I am a Taiwanese. Even though the talk is about peace and stability in two regions, I still don't fancy the idea that Taiwan will reunite with China. It's better to remain as status quo, see how China will develop in ten years before we decide whether to reunite with them or not.
Mark Lin, Taipei, Taiwan

Over the next 5-10 years, China and its neighbours will become close friends sharing economic
Winston Chim, Cardiff, UK
I am Chinese (born in HK) now living in the UK from the age of six. What saddens me is that many Chinese which have been raised abroad seem to have lost their identities. They have no idea about their ethnic, historic and cultural backgrounds. It's taken me almost 30 years to discover my true self. I can say that I am proud to be Chinese. Coming back to HK and visiting China has given me the chance to see for myself what being Chinese is all about. So I say yes to unity. It is amazing to see how far China has come since WWII. I believe over the next 5-10 years, China and its neighbours will become close friends sharing economic and political stability, rather like Europe with its EEC.
Winston Chim, Cardiff, UK

Why should the Taiwanese people trust China? China's leadership has never shown Taiwan any hint of removing their missile threat, or acquiesced to Taiwan's right to self-determination. Lien risks being a pawn of Chinese manipulation to divide Taiwan. A look at China's treatment of Hong Kong provides us with easy understanding why the majority of Taiwanese oppose unification with China.
Stan Lai, Toronto, ON

Taiwan people should feel grateful about this meeting. Because, in the future, when the tensions between China and Taiwan are high, Lien Chan will be the one who stands in the middle to stop the fighting and calm both sides down. Lien Chan should be hailed a new Chinese Hero!
Ping, USA

I do not think it is appropriate for Mr Lien as an unelected private citizen to appoint himself Taiwan's delegate to Beijing. Doing so undermines the credibility of Taiwan's democratic institutions. Still, I recognize the value of his opening the door and laying the framework for dialogue. To believe, however, that Mr Lien's visit will lead to a quick fix of the cross-straits divide is naive. What I hope for more realistically is that his visit will motivate China's leaders to respect the need for greater democracy and protection of human rights on the mainland as key to bridging that divide. Otherwise, the visit adds up to nothing more than a glitzy gambit by Mr. Lien to save his waning political career and by President Hu to win allies in the politburo for his young administration.
Eric H, Chicago, Illinois

As a Chinese, I feel that this historic meeting shows that China will unite with Taiwan in the near future. However, as I am also American, I see this as a strategically bad development for the US. Reunification would give China access to the entire Pacific, without a US military lock on China's navy and air force, which threatens US presence in Asia and the Pacific.
Kevin Yan, New York City, USA

People living in the mainland and Taiwan share the same desire for peace. I am from mainland. I think we are brothers of the Taiwan people. We should help each other rather than fight against each other.
Feng, Manchester, UK

Here's hoping the rest of the world learns from this. Conversation, communication and debate should be the weapons of the 21st Century; not armies, guns and missiles.
Paul Girling, Toronto, Canada

People in China are eager to reunite
Felix Wang, Shanghai, China
This is a positive sign for both Taiwan and China. People in China are eager to reunite. But most of us also hope to live in peace, which is much more important.
Felix Wang, Shanghai, China

It is an historical landmark. However, I hope the handshake will lead to more talks of substance, instead of staying just symbolic.
Wei-Ming Ho, Taichung Taiwan

While on the surface this may look like a move to promote peace and ease the tensions between the two countries, China clearly has another agenda here. Why are all of a sudden talking with Taiwan? Especially when things with Japan aren't going so well.
Elliot Roper, Utah, USA

China's motives are clear, it is willing to place its own development and peace above Nationalistic intentions on Taiwan. As long as Taiwan maintains the status quo, there would be no tensions or wars.
Xu, Australia

I have always felt Taiwan should cut a deal with China. They could gracefully surrender rule to China, and end up much like Singapore. War is unacceptable and Taiwan couldn't win it anyway, but beside that, it wouldn't do world trade any good. The US should keep its big nose out of it and Taiwanese leaders should stop thinking about themselves and actually do what is best for Taiwan.
David, Portland, USA

There should be more dialogue between China and Taiwan, but ultimately it should be left up to the Taiwanese people to decide their fate
Felix Peng, New York Cit
Sure, the meeting between two rivals is an historic moment, but what good will it do if there are no government to government talks? It seems fitting that the Chinese Government talk to the Guomindang (Nationalists); after all, the Guomindang had muzzled Taiwanese democracy and identity for around fifty years and placed the country in the world's longest state of martial law (from 1948 to 1987). Talks between a government that has been widely criticised for its human rights and a political party with an equally dismal record in the past can't really be taken seriously by myself or a great number of Taiwanese. I agree there should be more dialogue between China and Taiwan, but ultimately it should be left up to the Taiwanese people to decide their fate.
Felix Peng, New York City

As Chinese myself, I wish mainland and Taiwan will be unified in the near future. It is not just beneficial for Chinese, but also it is a positive effect for Pacific Regions even for the whole world.
Mark Xu, Melbourne Australia

I currently travel on business to both China and Taiwan. While China wants reunification, the majority of Taiwanese do not even if China was a democracy. As part of China, Taiwan would be a rather insignificant province of 23 million people in a land of over a billion people. The Taiwanese have been managing their own affairs for over 50 years. This is not going to be a problem that is easily solved.
Scott, USA

Having lived in Taiwan for two years, I have found that most Taiwanese would prefer to reunite with China for economic and social reasons. It would also allow Taiwan access to the UN.
Dean Paton, Birkenhead, Wirral

Beijing wants only to regain control over Taiwan - an island which was not under Chinese sovereignty very long anyway. All their actions must be viewed in this light, talks or no talks. We must also remember that the native Taiwanese have never been consulted about their future. They've merely been overwhelmed by Chinese immigration. And the KMT have probably just ruined their chances of forming a government any time soon. Their "agreement" is therefore moot.
James Farmer, Seattle, USA

That is a good news. The current Taiwanese President with all his rhetoric has painted himself into a corner and difficult for him to step back to appear losing face. What Lien has done will help to reduce tension between Taiwan and China and an opportunity for President Chen to soften his stance without losing face. I hope Lien will become the next President but unfortunately at his age it is probably unlikely but he has done the Taiwanese a great favour and most likely reduce the likelihood of war. Well done!
Kelly Hsu, London

The Beijing government has shown that the one-country, two systems can work for business, but politically only pro-Beijing people will really wield any power in this system. If unification ever takes place peacefully, then the current government would not be Beijing's choice in the legislature and it seems like the KMT are trying ensure their long term grasp of power in a post-unified Taiwan.
B Draper, London, UK

Lien Chan should not be meeting with the government of the PRC. He officially claims he is visiting China as a "private citizen," but how many "private citizens" have the honour of meeting with a high-ranking government official of another government? And it's certainly not helping that the Chinese Communist Party is claiming this to be a "historical visit." The only thing historical about this visit is that Lien has finally decided to apply his diplomatic incompetence to another level: trying to make decisions for 23 million people as the chairman of the opposition party currently holding no significant government post in the Taiwanese government.
JY, Taiwan

Both China and Taiwan needs friends, who better than each other
JT, Tunbridge Wells, UK
This is wonderful and after more than 50 years of hostilities and tensions. Better ties between China and Taiwan would be beneficial to the Chinese speaking world, if not the Pacific Rim. Being Chinese myself, I find this event a truly historical moment. Both China and Taiwan needs friends, who better than each other. As brothers, we have strength. The fact that it is the President of China and not a Minister that is meeting the Taiwanese opposition leader shows that times are changing and there is hope for peace. There is no real hostilities between people in China and Taiwan, ethnically we are one race. Now it is for the governments to respect and later recognise each other.
JT, Tunbridge Wells, UK

It is a welcome and wise decision, given the fact that not long ago Taiwan claimed to represent whole of China and now the nationalists accept the fact that they are no more than a part of China. Moreover, Taiwan requires the mainland for its economic, business and cultural needs. Both Taiwan and the mainland will gain if they can show pragmatism in their relationship. If one country two systems can function in Hong-Kong why not the same be possible in Taiwan?
Srinivasan Toft, Denmark

I think it is fascinating that these talks are taking place. Having been to China and seen how passionate the people are about being reunited with Taiwan, I think the talks can only be a good thing for the future.
Siobhan, London, UK

When one government wants to cosy up to another government, talking to the leader of the Opposition would be perverse. China's motive is clearly something other than building bridges. If Lien and the KMT manage to get re-elected in Taiwan, they will find the mainland Chinese leaders who are showering praise on them now considerably less friendly. For mainland China the name of the game is still Taiwanese destabilisation. Only the tactics have changed
Richard Selby, London


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