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Let's work to keep peace, China tells visiting Taiwan KMT official

New Politburo Standing Committee member Wang Huning meets the media following the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China October 23, 2022. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

A top Chinese official told a senior Taiwan opposition figure on Friday that both China's Communist Party and Taiwan's Kuomintang (KMT) should oppose Taiwan independence and interference by external forces.

Wang Huning, the Communist Party's fourth ranked leader, told Andrew Hsia, Taiwan's opposition KMT's deputy chairman, during a meeting in Beijing that both parties should maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait, Chinese state television reported.

China claims democratically ruled Taiwan as its own and has stepped up military and diplomatic pressure to get the island to accept Chinese sovereignty. Taiwan's government says only the Taiwanese people can decide their future.

The KMT said Hsia told Wang that no matter how big their differences are, as long as the two sides can continue dialogue and regard maintaining peace in the Taiwan Strait as an important goal, "there are no difficulties that cannot be resolved".

"Maintaining the peace and stability of cross-strait relations and promoting the well-being of the people of Taiwan and the people on both sides of the strait have always been the KMT's highest priority policy goal," the party paraphrased Hsia as saying.

Taiwan's China-policy making Mainland Affairs Council, responding to the meeting, said cross-strait exchanges should be based on equality and mutual respect, and that authoritarianism, and democracy, peace and stability are "incompatible".

"Senior Chinese Communist Party officials must think about constructive, meaningful and pragmatic ways to handle" relations, it said in a statement.

Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has seized on Hsia's China trip to attack the KMT for being too close to Beijing and wanting to sell out Taiwan, and has criticised Hsia for going to "pay court to the communists".

The KMT traditionally favours close ties with China, but strongly denies being pro-Beijing.

Wang is one of just two top officials reappointed to join President Xi Jinping on the elite seven-man Politburo Standing Committee at a party congress last year, and is the party's top theoretician.

In Xi's third leadership term, Wang is on track to be in charge of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference when a government reshuffle takes place next month, an advisory body which has an important role in working with - and co-opting - non-communists, as well as people from Taiwan.

China has not spoken with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen's administration since she took office in 2016, believing she is a separatist, and has rebuffed frequent calls from Tsai for dialogue to resume.

China says Tsai has to accept that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to "one China", which she has refused to do.

(Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Additional reporting by Taipei newsroom; Writing by Ben Blanchard; editing by Philippa Fletcher and Nick Macfie)

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