China dramatically broadened the basis for reunification with Taiwan today, offering for the first time to allow the island's Nationalist Chinese officials to participate in top leadership posts of a reunited nation.
The offer, made by the chairman of China's parliament in a speech marking the 32nd anniversary of the communist state, included an unprecendented proposal for talks on a "reciprocal basis" with Taiwan's ruling Nationalist Chinese party.
The speech by Ye Jianying represents the most far-reaching effort yet by the communist government to get talks started with its old Nationalist Chinese foes, who fled to Taiwan after the communist takeover in 1949.
Since January 1979, when the United States shifted its recognition from Taiwan to the mainland, Peking has sought a gradual relaxation of tensions with proposals of postal, trade, cutural and air travel exchanges with the island.
As a further inducement, China has promised that Taiwan can maintain its capitalist economy, its political and social system and its armed forces if it simply abandons its flag and anthem and calls itself a Chinese province.
Taiwan officials consistently have rejected the offers as "united front tricks" aimed at lulling the prosperous island into a deal with the economically strapped mainland that the Nationalists later would regret.
Today's twin offer of party-to-party talks and leadership posts to Taiwanese officials appears to be a response to Nationalist Chinese complaints that they have nothing to gain by negotiating.
"People in authority and representative personages of various circles in Taiwan may take up posts of leadership in national political bodies and participate in running the state," said Ye, who heads the National People's Congress that legislates state as opposed to party affairs.
In his speech, carried over national radio, Ye called on the Taiwanese leadership to "put national interests above everything else, forget previous ill will and join hands with us in accomplishing the great cause of national reunification and the great goal of making China prosperous and strong.
"Taiwan's return to the embrace of the motherland and the accomplishments of the great cause of national reunification is a great and glorious mission history has bequeathed on our generation," said Ye, China's only surviving Army marshall who led communist fighters against the Nationalist Army during the bitter Chinese civil war.
Ye again assured Taiwan that its "socioeconomic system" will remain unchanged and pledged that once reunited with the mainland, Taiwanese citizens will not lose the "proprietary right and rightful right of inheritance over private property, houses, land, and enterprises."
In an unusual inducement to a society with a much higher per capita income than China, he said Peking would provide economic subsidies to Taiwan when "local finance is in difficulty."