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Ex-VP Siew to meet China premier at Boao Forum

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Former Vice President Vincent Siew is expected to meet with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at a forum in China later this week amid strong protests in Taiwan against a cross-strait trade pact.

Siew will arrive in China's southern island province of Hainan on Wednesday to take part in the Boao Forum for Asia. The former vice president is leading a private delegation to the forum, which runs from April 8 to 11.

  It will be Siew's first meeting with Li since the latter became premier. The focus of their meeting is expected to be on cross-strait trade.

At last year's Boao Forum, Siew met with Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping. During the meeting, Siew emphasized the need to promote peace across the strait, including cooperation in the face of regional and global developments.

Xi said both sides should actively explore cooperation opportunities.

Cross-strait relations have improved since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008.

But his China-friendly policies have raised concerns inside Taiwan. Many, including the students who have been occupying the Legislative Yuan, have expressed worries that with growing reliance on cross-strait trade, Taiwan will be economically hijacked by China.

The student occupiers have demanded that the Ma administration withdraw the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement that has yet to be ratified by parliament.

It is uncertain whether Siew and Li will touch on the trade pact controversy during their upcoming meeting.

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