Taiwan's former leader Lien Chan meets Chinese president Xi Jinping in Beijing

Mr Xi Jinping, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee (L) walks with visiting Honorary Chairman of the Kuomintang Lien Chan to a meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on February 18, 2014. -- PHOTO: REU
Mr Xi Jinping, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee (L) walks with visiting Honorary Chairman of the Kuomintang Lien Chan to a meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on February 18, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - A former vice-president of Taiwan met China's top leader on Tuesday, state media reported, in the latest high-level encounter between the two sides amid steadily closer relations.

Mr Lien Chan, also an honorary chairman of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party, met President Xi Jinping at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, the official Xinhua news agency said. It did not immediately provide details of what was discussed.

The four-day visit by Mr Lien, who arrived on Monday, follows the first government-to-government talks between Taiwan and China since they split 65 years ago after a civil war.

In an apparent nod to the political sensitivities of China-Taiwan encounters, the Xinhua report described Mr Xi by his party title of "general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee" rather than as state president.

Similarly, Mr Lien was described as "Kuomintang Honorary Chairman" and not as a former vice-president of the island.

According to Taiwan's Central News Agency, Mr Lien told reporters in Taipei on Monday that he was not representing any organisation or political party, nor would he convey any message to Mr Xi from Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou.

Exactly a week ago, Mr Wang Yu-chi, Taiwan's top official overseeing China policy, met his Chinese counterpart Zhang Zhijun in Nanjing, in a symbolic yet historic move between the former bitter rivals.

Beijing still claims the self-ruled island as part of its territory awaiting reunification.

Mr Lien became the first leader of the KMT party to visit China in 56 years when he met President Hu Jintao in 2005 to formally end hostilities with the Communists. Last year, he met Mr Xi in Beijing.

Ties with China have improved markedly since Mr Ma of the KMT - which opposes Taiwanese independence - became the island's president in 2008. He was re-elected in 2012 for a final four-year term.

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