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  • For the first time in more than six decades, government leaders from Taiwan and China are

  • meeting face-to-face. And while the talks aren't expected to yield much in the way of

  • progress, the fact that they're even taking place is pretty remarkable.

  • The rival governments have had no official contact until now. Instead all dialogue has

  • been carried out by proxies. (Via YouTube / ChinaWelcomeU)

  • Their relationship is complicatedChina's Communist party considers Taiwan a rebel region

  • that should be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary. (Via Google Maps)

  • The animosity dates back to China's civil war in 1949. When the country's nationalists

  • lost to Mao Zedong's communists, Chiang Kai-Shek and his two million nationalists

  • supporters fled to Taiwan. (Via University of Southern California)

  • From then on, the two were governed separately, with both claiming to be the true government

  • of ChinaTaiwain referring to itself as the Republic of China.

  • But in 1971, the United Nations recognized mainland China as the "rightful holders" of

  • China's U.N. seat, and Taiwan grew more isolated internationally. (Via United Nations)

  • But starting with the election of Taiwan's Beijing-friendly president Ma Ying-jeou in

  • 2008, relations between Taiwan and China started to improve. (Via Wikimedia Commons / jamiweb)

  • He paved the way for increased tourism and direct flights between Taiwan and China. (Via

  • NTD-TV)

  • These talks aren't totally out of the blueyears of behind-the-scenes work went in

  • to getting Chinese and Taiwanese leaders at the negotiating table. (Via Euronews)

  • Each side wants different things. As one China analyst told Al Jazeera the purpose, from

  • the Taiwanese perspective, is by "no means" reunification.

  • "There is no mileage for that in Taiwan. Most of the Taiwanese people want status quo."

  • As for China, analysts speculate, it will push for a free trade agreement it approved

  • six months ago that remains stalled in Taiwan's parliament.

  • The BBC's Martin Patience explains: "China perhaps sees these talks as a useful opportunity

  • to forge closer ties with Taiwan while a relatively pro-Beijing president remains in power on

  • the island."

  • One issue the two are likely to disagree onpress freedom. China reportedly would

  • not allow several journalists from Taiwanese and Western-backed news outlets to attend

  • the meeting.

For the first time in more than six decades, government leaders from Taiwan and China are

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