Wu Poh-hsiung, honorary chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT), arrived in Beijing Wednesday as head of a delegation for a meeting with Communist Party of China (CPC) General Secretary Xi Jinping.
The visit, which is the first official meeting between the two parties since Xi took over as head of the CPC in November, comes as Taiwan and the mainland are working to exchange liaison offices, seen as a crucial step by Taiwan to normalizing ties with the mainland.
Wu kicked off his three-day visit as he told reporters "the timing of the meeting is really important," upon arrival at his hotel in Beijing.
He is set to meet with Xi on Thursday.
Fan Liqing, spokeswoman of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said Sunday that Xi will exchange views with Wu on issues such as relations between the CPC and KMT as well as cross-Straits ties. Fan said the meeting will be "an important activity" in the high-level exchanges between the two parties under new circumstances.
In a statement released by the KMT office, Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou told Wu that the visit would "review the development of ties across the Taiwan Strait over the past five years" and would also "craft the direction of ties looking ahead." A KMT press release on Sunday also praised the upcoming meeting as a "new beginning" and a "constructive dialogue" that indicates the two parties' emphasis on the CPC-KMT platform and their commitment to maintaining and advancing the peaceful development of cross-Straits ties.
Yang Lixian, a researcher with the Institute of Taiwan Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times the visit will be focusing on cross-Straits trade and economic ties and it is likely the two leaders will touch on a possible political dialogue.
"Wu is likely to reiterate Ma's stance on cross-Straits relations, and express views on issues including asking the mainland to allow Taiwan more space in participating in international affairs," Yang said.
Talking about setting up the liaison offices is part of political dialogue, Yang said, although Fan earlier said the offices will only serve cross-Straits economic and cultural ties, and safeguard rights of residents on both sides. It is unlikely the two sides will discuss issues in the South China Sea, Yang added.