China and Taiwan have been separately ruled since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s, but China claims sovereignty over the island and insists the two sides eventually unify. They have in recent years set aside that dispute to build trust and sign economic cooperation deals, and their presidents will meet for the first time Saturday.

A timeline of relations as the two sides have moved gradually over the past 36 years from outright hostility to face-to-face meetings:

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January 1979: Newly emergent Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping announces the concepts of "one country, two systems" and "peaceful unification" to replace outright armed liberation of Taiwan.

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April 1979: Taiwan's Nationalist Party leader Chiang Ching-kuo comes out with a "Three No's" policy on ties China: no compromise, contact or negotiation.

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Late 1987: Taiwan's government starts allowing some citizens to visit China, their ancestral homeland.

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November 1992: Semi-official negotiating bodies from China and Taiwan reach the 1992 Consensus. It obligates both sides to hold any talks as parts of a single China, but allows each to interpret "China" in its own way according to political pressures at home.

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March 1996: China conducts missile exercises offshore aimed at intimidating Taiwanese against voting for Lee Teng-hui, who angered China with moves to assert Taiwan's separate status. He is elected.

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July 1999: Lee Teng-hui suggests that China and Taiwan form "special state-to-state relations," angering Beijing.

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March 2000: Voters in Taiwan pick their first president not from the Nationalist Party. Chen Shui-bian later advocated Taiwan's legal independence from China. His stance angered Beijing, but Chen never found support in the legislature to pursue his goal. He left office in 2008.

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January 2001: Despite enmity, the two sides introduce postal, transportation and trade links between southeastern China and Taiwan's outlying islands.

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April 2005: Nationalist Party Chairman Lien Chan visits China and meets Communist Party General Secretary Hu Jintao in Beijing. The visit marked the first meeting between the heads of the rival parties in 60 years, and was the highlight of a push by Beijing to strengthen contacts with their former rivals in alliance against the pro-Taiwan independence government.

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May 2008: Current Nationalist Party-backed President Ma Ying-jeou takes office and sets aside political disputes with China to discuss deals on tourism and commercial flights.

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June 2010: China and Taiwan sign an economic cooperation framework agreement, stimulating two-way trade. The agreement cut tariffs in about 800 import categories.

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March 2014: University students occupy parliament in Taipei to block ratification of a service trade liberalization deal, because of wariness over the level of control China will exert on Taiwan. Over the following three weeks, tens of thousands of protesters question the pace and transparency of agreements with China.

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April 2015: Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party picks Tsai Ing-wen as its nominee for the January 2016 presidential race. Now the frontrunner, she has rejected the 1992 Consensus, making Beijing nervous.

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November 2015: The historic first meeting of presidents of China and Taiwan is announced, to be held in Singapore.