October 1, 2015 / 7:44 AM / 4 years ago

Diplomatic rivals China, Taiwan to discuss relations this month

Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou gives a speech at a party congress in Taipei, Taiwan, July 19, 2015. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan’s top official in charge of relations with China will visit China this month, the first time since he took office in February, to discuss cross-strait relations.

China regards the self-ruled island of Taiwan as a breakaway province and has not renounced the use of force to ensure unification. Trade ties have improved since Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008, but the two sides remain political rivals.

The Mainland Affairs Council said in a statement on Thursday its head, Andrew Hsia, would visit China from Oct 13 to 15.

Hsia, a former deputy defence minister, last met with his Chinese counterpart, the director of the Taiwan Affairs Office, Zhang Zhijun, on the Taiwan island of Kinmen in May to discuss issues such as in what name both sides would agree for Taiwan to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and how to cooperate in a crackdown on economic crime.

The May meeting was greeted by clashes with protesters calling for Taiwan not to join the AIIB.

The heads of the two government offices in charge of cross-strait affairs held their first session in 2014.

Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by Nick Macfie

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