China and Taiwan Exchange Messages for First Time in 60 Years
The presidents of China and Taiwan exchanged direct messages today for the first time since 1949, with China's president Hu Jintao acknowledging Taiwan`s president Ma Ying-jeou as chairman of the Nationalist party.The President of Taiwan Ma Ying-Jeou was elected partly on the grounds that he was in favor of improving relations with China. Such contact is another milestone in the complicated endeavor to build mutual trust between the countries.
First came direct flights, then freight links, and now a single telegram. The presidents of Taiwan and China exchanged direct messages today for the first time in 60 years, in the latest sign of their thawing relations.
The telegrams exchanged, however, were not particularly warm. Hu addressed the president simply as 'Mr Ma', omitting the presidential title, while the latter did the same, addressing Hu as general secretary of the Communist party, according the The Guardian.
Taiwan has been self-governed since Chiang Kai-shek fled during the 1949 civil war that ended with the defeat of the Kuomintang, the Chinese nationalist party.
But while he has signed landmark trade deals, he has avoided political issues, due in large part to powerful anti-Beijing sentiment on the island.
The leaders' are treading cautiously because Beijing still lays claim to Taiwan. While they are trying to create stability in the Taiwan Strait, China has not formally recognized Taiwan's sovereignty.
China has warned it could use force if Taipei pursued formal independence.
China is not alone in its attitude towards Taiwan, which holds no seat in the United Nations and is only recognized by 23 states - most of which are small Caribbean and Pacific states, according to the BBC.
However, the telegrams from both sides contained hopes for peace in the region:
"I hope our two parties can continue to promote peaceful cross-strait development, deepen mutual trust, bring good news to compatriots on both sides and create a revival of the great Chinese race," said Hu in his telegram.
"We should continue efforts to consolidate peace in the Taiwan Strait and rebuild regional stability," Ma replied, adding that they should "put aside disputes".
The improved ties have led to speculation that the two leaders may hold a summit, a prospect Mr Ma has downplayed in the face of the island's anti-China opposition.
Strategic analysts from both sides agree that the leaders may take upto years to assess the risks of holding a meeting of the two presidents.