4 Nov 2008

Top Chinese envoy on Taiwan visit

10:29 am on 4 November 2008

China's top official for relations with Taiwan is in Taipei for a five-day visit.

Chen Yunlin heads the Chinese body which handles relations with Taiwan. The BBC reports he is expected to sign agreements on economic and transport issues.

New Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has promised to end decades of political rivalry with Beijing.

Mr Chen is head of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits.

He will hold talks and sign agreements on direct shipping and air cargo links, food safety and a postal service with the head of the Straits Exchange Foundation.

The two organisations manage ties between China and Taiwan, because there have been no formal links since civil war ended in 1949.

Formal discussions between the two parties are to begin on Tuesday.

China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province and has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong's Communists won the Chinese civil war and the defeated Kuomintang fled to Taiwan.

The two sides held their first meeting in a decade in June this year, in Beijing.