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Taiwan To Send Delegate To China

April 17, 1998

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) _ Taiwan will send a top-level negotiator to China next week in the most significant exchange since talks were frozen in 1995, an official said Friday.

Jan Jyh-horng, a deputy secretary-general of the Straits Exchange Foundation, will meet his Chinese counterparts on April 22-24, said Chang Liang-jen, a foundation spokesman.

The foundation is a semiofficial organization set up by Taiwan to handle detente with China.

The announcement was in response to an invitation from China for a visit, which would lay the groundwork for a visit by the foundation’s chairman, Koo Chen-fu, later this year.

Beijing’s invitation was the culmination of a series of messages exchanged between the sides since December that represented a gradual warming of relations after the three-year freeze.

But Jan’s visit still is highly preliminary, and a top China policy official said this week he doesn’t expect full talks to resume this year.

China suspended talks with Taiwan in June 1995 in retaliation for a visit to the United States by Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui.

China considered Lee’s visit a sign that he was seeking international recognition for an independent Taiwan, a development China has threatened to block with military force.

China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since Mao Tse-tung’s communists ousted Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalists from the mainland in 1949. Both sides claim to want reunification.

Jan’s visit is expected to pave the way for a trip to Beijing by foundation Secretary-General Shi Hwei-yow. President Clinton and Chinese President Jiang Zemin are expected to meet there in June.

Also Friday, 16 Chinese journalists arrived in Taiwan to meet with colleagues on the island, the largest such delegation ever.

The delegation was led by Xie Hong, deputy editor in chief of the official Communist Party People’s Daily.

Cultural and academic exchanges were briefly suspended after the freeze, but began picking up again gradually in 1996.

Update hourly