Taiwan and China restart unity talks

AFTER FIVE years of nervous stand-off, Chinese and Taiwanese negotiators will resume reunification talks tomorrow in Shanghai.

Just three years ago the two countries looked to be on the verge of war as their armies massed on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, and the American 7th Fleet was mobilised to signal that an outb`reak of hostilities could have had international repercussions.

Since then the battle has been verbal. The military on both sides has been stood down. On a recent visit to Taiwan's biggest airbase, the CCK Airbase in the middle of the island, the pilots were on constant alert but keen to stress that they were far from a war footing.

"We're just patrolling," insisted Major Frank Hsu. "Patrolling means I have fighters here, so it tells mainland China please don't come here. It's like having a dog in your house. We say we love our dogs but it's better if you don't come here to see them."

On the other side of the Taiwan Strait the Chinese forces have been equally punctilious about not provoking the Taiwanese.

The calm on the military front is underlined by a number of developments elsewhere which, when pieced together, suggest that the thaw in cross- Straits relations has begun even if it is yet to be formally acknowledged during this week's meetings.

It seems that this has something to do with the leaders of both sides wanting to make their mark on history. An official in President Lee Teng- hui's office said, "Never underestimate the pull of history when you analyse the motives of relations between us and the mainland."

President Lee Teng-hui of Taiwan will soon step down from office and wants to have achieved some breakthrough in relations with China, while President Jiang Zemin of China badly wants to complete the recovery of Hong Kong and Macau with the bigger prize of drawing Taiwan back into the Chinese fold. President Jiang knows that Taiwan is highly reluctant to rejoin the Chinese mainland and realises that an offer of reunification has to be made attractive.

Last month Tang Jiaxuan, China's foreign minister, told an American audience that once Taiwan was reunited with the mainland it would "enjoy a greater autonomy than Hong Kong and Macau". The tone of his speech was widely seen as highly conciliatory.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Designer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity for someone wi...

Recruitment Genius: Building Manager / Head Porter

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Medical Copywriter / Account Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an awa...

Recruitment Genius: Transport Clerk / Debriefer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading temperature contro...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific