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Lien Chan to meet Xi Jinping on Monday

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Former Vice President Lien Chan (連戰) meets with China Communist Party leader Xi Jinping (習近平) next Monday, for talks likely to set the tone for upcoming cross-strait interaction.

This Sunday, Lien embarks on a four-day Beijing trip at the invitation of Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (中共中央), according to Kuo Su-chun (郭素春), a spokeswoman for Lien's diplomatic mission.

“The invitation has stood for a while, but the two sides have been negotiating a time,” said Kuo in Taipei yesterday.

Lien, who is a former Taiwan vice president, will be visiting China in the capacity of Kuomintang (KMT) honorary chairman.

On Monday, Feb. 25, Lien meets privately with Xi, who was promoted to the Communist Party's top position last year and is expected to become the country's president in March. Once Xi's ascension to power is complete, he is likely to steer policy in China for the next decade.

The Lien-Xi meet is one between old friends, according to Kuo. “They have known each other for a long time and will discuss any topic of interest.”

Pundits in Taipei expect Xi to set the official tone for his era of cross-strait interaction. With Lien, Xi will be conducting his first bilateral exchange in his presumed capacity of China's head of state.

Later on Monday, Lien is set to meet with high-level cadres in Beijing. The following day, he sits down with Xi's predecessor Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and Jia Qinglin (賈慶林), chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

President Ma Ying-jeou is optimistic over the recent development in cross-strait relations, she said.

'The right way'

Lien believes that in the next era of cross-strait relations, both sides of the Strait will benefit best from doing things “the right way,” said a source on condition of anonymity.

He said that “empty talk will lead a country astray, but real work can revitalize a nation,” according to the source.

Lien is known as a skillful negotiator with experience in China. In 2005, Lien presided in talks that drew a detente to cross-strait hostilities.

He has also represented Taiwan at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit since 2008.

On the upcoming Beijing trip, Lien will be joined by some 30 public officials, business interests and members of the KMT including Vice Chairman Lin Fong-cheng (林豐正) and John Chiang (蔣孝嚴), according to the mission spokeswoman

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