(dpa) - Taiwan Vice president-elect Vincent Siew said Monday he will travel to China later this week for an economic forum where he may meet Chinese President Hu Jintao to discuss ways to increase mutual trust and relations.
"We hope to use this opportunity to extend our goodwill and sincerity to the other side of the Taiwan Strait in order to increase the basis of mutual trust and improve our relations," Siew said.
The 2008 Boao Forum for Asia, will be held from April 11 to April 13 in Hainan Island in the south of China. Siew insisted that he was leading a delegation of business leaders and scholars in his role as chairman of the private Cross-Straits Common Market Foundation.
That capacity helps play down the political sensitivity over a China visit by a vice president-elect from Taiwan. Siew would be the highest-ranking official from the island to visit China, a political rival of Taiwan since the two sides split at the end of a civil war in 1949.
Siew declined to confirm whether he would meet President Hu, saying only that expected the delegation to meet the "highest ranking official" of China as "we did in the past." Siew met Hu in 2003 and Premier Wen Jiabao in 2004 when they attended the event.
Organizers said Hu is scheduled to address the opening of the 7th annual regional economic forum, started by China and 25 other Asian nations in 2001 to discuss economics and other major issues.
Siew assured the pro-independence camp on the island he would not "sell out Taiwan," and said all participants in the forum are "on equal footing."
Outgoing Vice President Annette Lu of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said Monday she worried Siew could risk belittling the island by embracing China, which considers Taiwan part of the mainland that must be brought back to the Chinese fold, if necessary by force.
Siew said the Boao Forum serves as a cross-strait economic exchange platform for Taiwan, through which the island is able to engage China and improve ties.
He said Taiwan would also hold bilateral talks with leaders from other countries on the sidelines of the forum, and conduct a seminar on the prospect of cross-strait economic cooperation and market opportunities.
Lien Chan, former chairman of the Nationalist Party or Kuomintang (KMT), made a historic trip to Beijing in 2005 and held talks with President Hu on ways to improve cross-strait relations.
Relations soured in recent years with pro-independence rhetoric of the outgoing DPP government. A new thaw is expected with the incoming KMT regime of China-friendly President-elect Ma Ying-jeou and Siew, who won last month's election by a landslide.
Ma has repeatedly vowed to engage Beijing and sign a peace agreement with China.