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Taiwan ruling party leader affirms eventual reunification with China during Beijing meeting

  • FILE - This combination of file photo shows Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, in Beijing Jan. 6, 2015 and Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party Chairman Eric Chu in Hong Kong March 9, 2015. Chu, also New Taipei mayor, reaffirmed the party's support for eventual unification with the mainland when he met Monday, May 4  with Xi as part of continuing rapprochement between the former bitter enemies. Chu, a likely presidential candidate next year, also affirmed Taiwan's desire to join the proposed Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank during the meeting in Beijing. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, Vincent Yu, File)

    FILE - This combination of file photo shows Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, in Beijing Jan. 6, 2015 and Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party Chairman Eric Chu in Hong Kong March 9, 2015. Chu, also New Taipei mayor, reaffirmed the party's support for eventual unification with the mainland when he met Monday, May 4 with Xi as part of continuing rapprochement between the former bitter enemies. Chu, a likely presidential candidate next year, also affirmed Taiwan's desire to join the proposed Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank during the meeting in Beijing. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, Vincent Yu, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo provided by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, meets with Eric Chu, the head of Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party in Beijing, Monday, May 4, 2015.  Chu, considered a likely candidate in next year's Taiwanese presidential elections,  called for more chances for the island to participate in international organizations following a meeting Monday with Chinese President Xi, whose government views the territory as a renegade province. (Lan Hongguang/Xinhua via AP) NO SALES

    In this photo provided by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, meets with Eric Chu, the head of Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party in Beijing, Monday, May 4, 2015. Chu, considered a likely candidate in next year's Taiwanese presidential elections, called for more chances for the island to participate in international organizations following a meeting Monday with Chinese President Xi, whose government views the territory as a renegade province. (Lan Hongguang/Xinhua via AP) NO SALES  (The Associated Press)

  • Eric Chu, center, chairman of Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party, also known as the Kuomintang, speaks at a press conference in Beijing, Monday, May 4, 2015. Chu, considered a likely candidate in next year's Taiwanese presidential elections, called for more chances for the island to participate in international organizations following a meeting Monday with Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose government views the territory as a renegade province. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

    Eric Chu, center, chairman of Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Party, also known as the Kuomintang, speaks at a press conference in Beijing, Monday, May 4, 2015. Chu, considered a likely candidate in next year's Taiwanese presidential elections, called for more chances for the island to participate in international organizations following a meeting Monday with Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose government views the territory as a renegade province. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)  (The Associated Press)

The head of Taiwan's Nationalists reaffirmed the party's support for eventual unification with the mainland when he met Monday with Chinese President Xi Jinping as part of continuing rapprochement between the former bitter enemies.

Nationalist Party Chairman Eric Chu, a likely presidential candidate next year, also affirmed Taiwan's desire to join the proposed Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank during the meeting in Beijing. China claims Taiwan as its own territory and doesn't want the island to join using a name that might imply it is an independent country.

Chu's comments during his meeting with Xi were carried live on Hong Kong-based broadcaster Phoenix Television.

The Nationalists were driven to Taiwan by Mao Zedong's Communists during the Chinese civil war in 1949, leading to decades of hostility between the sides. Chu, who took over as party leader in January, is the third Nationalist chairman to visit the mainland and the first since 2009.

Relations between the communist-ruled mainland and the self-governing democratic island of Taiwan began to warm in the 1990s, partly out of their common opposition to Taiwan's formal independence from China, a position advocated by the island's Democratic Progressive Party.

Despite increasingly close economic ties, the prospect of political unification has grown increasingly unpopular on Taiwan, especially with younger voters. Opposition to the Nationalists' pro-China policies was seen as a driver behind heavy local electoral defeats for the party last year that led to Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou resigning as party chairman.