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The upcoming visit of Lien Chan, former chairman of the Chinese Kuomintang in Taiwan, to Beijing next week shows a gesture to ease tensions across the Taiwan Straits, a scholar said on Friday.
Lien will lead a delegation to visit the mainland from July 12 to 14, An Fengshan, spokesman for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, announced on Friday. Following the stop in Beijing, the delegation will visit Liaoning, Jilin and Zhejiang provinces, he said.
Lien is also chairman of a foundation on cross-Straits peaceful development.
According to Taiwan media, the delegation has about 50 powerful figures from the island, including Terry Guo, founder and chairman of Foxconn, the world"s largest contract electronics manufacturer and major suppler for Apple.
Lien"s visit comes amid rising tension between the mainland and Taiwan, as Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen has failed to recognize the 1992 Consensus, which embodies the one-China principle, and her right-hand man, the island"s executive head Lai Ching-te, publicly called himself a "Taiwan independence" worker.
Scholars have noted that Tsai"s recent behavior, such as calling on the international community to "constrain" the Chinese mainland, courting foreign support and creating hostility among people from the mainland and Taiwan, will enhance confrontation in cross-Straits relations.
Wang Hailiang, a Taiwan studies researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said Lien"s coming visit is more likely a symbolic gesture that shows Lien"s stance to help ease the tension between the mainland and Taiwan.
"But Lien is no longer the leader of the KMT and the impact of his visit may be limited," Wang said.
Lien, who retired as KMT chairman in August 2005, has been an important figure in the history of the relationship between the Communist Party of China and KMT, and in the history of cross-Straits relations.
In April 2005, as then KMT leader, he visited the Chinese mainland and met Hu Jintao, then general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, breaking the ice that had existed for half a century.
It was the first meeting for leaders of the two parties since 1949. After that, Lien visited the mainland a dozen times, and met general secretary of the CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping in 2013, 2014 and 2015.