Beijing (AFP) - Leaders of China's Communist Party will meet the chairman of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party early next month, state media said Friday, amid improving relations between the political foes.
Mainland officials, who were not named, will meet Eric Chu, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing Ma Xiaoguang, of the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party Central Committee.
The two split at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, and Beijing still regards Taiwan as a province awaiting reunification.
Chu is leading a delegation that will attend a cross-strait forum in Shanghai on Sunday week and then travel to Beijing.
The Taiwanese politician said earlier that "a plan for a meeting of the two party leaders is being arranged", implying he would sit down with Xi Jinping, the head of the Communist Party and China's president.
China's foreign ministry did not confirm whether Chu would meet Xi.
"The leaders of the KMT and CPC will exchange views on party-to-party exchanges and cross-strait relations, which will be a significant event in high-level exchanges between the two parties," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular briefing.
The meeting comes in the wake of Taipei's application to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank being rejected, with Beijing saying the island could join later under a "appropriate name".
In 2005 Lien Chan made the first trip to the mainland by a KMT chief since 1949.
The landmark visit and the ensuing annual forum paved the way for relations to warm after Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou came to power in 2008. He was re-elected in 2012.
Wu Po-hsiung was the last KMT chairman to visit the mainland, in 2008.
In June 2010 the two sides signed a trade pact known as the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, widely seen as the boldest step yet towards reconciliation.
But public sentiment in Taiwan has turned against the Beijing-friendly approach, with voters saying trade deals have been agreed in secret and not benefited ordinary citizens.
In March last year around 200 students occupied parliament for more than three weeks to demonstrate against a controversial services trade pact, while thousands rallied in support of what became known as the "Sunflower Movement".
The KMT suffered its worst-ever showing in local polls in November -- seen as a barometer for presidential elections in 2016.
Despite the setback, Ma said earlier this month that ties with Beijing were "back to normal", and that government surveys showed opposition to the pace of rapprochement was declining.