BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | China, Taiwan in direct exchange

The leaders of China and Taiwan have exchanged direct messages for the first time in more than 60 years.

Chinese President Hu Jintao sent a congratulatory telegram to Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou after his Sunday election to head of the ruling party.

Mr Ma responded, suggesting that they had "put aside disputes", a statement from Mr Ma's KMT party said.

Mr Ma was elected president last year on pledges to improve ties. The two sides split in 1949 amid civil war.

'Peaceful development'

Taiwan's Nationalist Party (KMT) elected Mr Ma as its chairman on Sunday, giving him more control of the island's legislative agenda as well as its China policy.

"I hope our two parties can continue to promote peaceful cross-Strait development, deepen mutual trust, bring good news to compatriots on both sides and create a revival of the great Chinese race," said Mr Hu's message.
Will China become the new world idol? Their economy continues to grow, as does their influence. And now China and Taiwan seem to be making peace. Will the two reunite, or will these good will gestures fall apart into more conflict?