China plays up meeting with senior Taiwan figure

Associated Press
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In this photo provided by China's Xinhua News Agency, Taiwan's Kuomintang Honorary Chairman Lien Chan, center, speaks to the media after visiting the village of Guajiayu on the outskirts of Beijing, China, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014. Lien, also chairman of a foundation on cross-Strait peaceful development, is leading a delegation from Taiwan for a four-day visit to the Chinese mainland. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Chen Yehua) NO SALES

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese state media devoted blanket coverage Wednesday to a visit by a senior figure in Taiwan's ruling party in a sign of its desire to nudge the self-governing island closer to Beijing.

Coverage of a meeting between Lien Chan and Chinese President Xi Jinping dominated the front pages of official newspapers and led state broadcaster CCTV's news report. Though state media said Tuesday's talks contained little of substance and broke no new ground, the coverage indicated a desire to play up Lien's role in boosting contacts across the Taiwan Strait.

Lien is honorary chairman of Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party and a former premier and vice president. His visit follows the first-ever high-level talks last week between officials of the two governments since China and Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949.

The visit comes amid slumping approval ratings for Taiwan's pro-China president and Nationalist leader, Ma Ying-jeou, and ahead of local elections on the island later this year.

Despite a decade of confidence-building measures and ever-closer economic ties between the sides, there has been no sign of Taiwan's electorate warming to Beijing's desired goal of unification.