Senior Chinese Officials in Taiwan for Talks

William A. Stanton, Director of American Institute in Taiwan, and President Ma Ying-Jeou cutting red ribbon

A high-level Chinese delegation is in Taiwan for the latest economic cooperation talks between the once-bitter enemies, with an agreement on medical cooperation at the top of their agenda.

Taipei newspapers say China may also announce it will let the number of mainland tourists visiting Taiwan increase by 1,000 per day to 4,000, giving a boost to the island's travel industry.

A small group of pro-independence protesters was on hand for the arrival Monday of Chinese delegation leader Chen Yunlin. But the protesters do not have the backing of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party as they did when Chen last visited two years ago.

Tuesday's meeting will be the sixth round of talks since Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008 aiming to use economic ties to ease tensions with China. The highlight of the talks has been a wide-ranging free-trade deal signed in June.

Taiwan negotiators said recently they expect to sign a deal Tuesday providing for the exchange of information about epidemics on either side of the Taiwan Strait and allowing cooperation in the development of vaccines.

The sides are also expected to discuss but not reach agreement on a proposed investment protection agreement.

The plan to increase Chinese tourist entries to Taiwan was reported by several newspapers but not confirmed by officials. Almost one-and-three-quarter million mainland tourists visited Taiwan during the first 11 months of this year.