HONG KONG -- The recent visits by three Taiwan opposition leaders to mainland China illustrates the new policy of Chinese President Hu Jintao, which is a marked departure from that of his predecessor, Jiang Zemin.

When Jiang was China's leader, he wanted to set a timetable for Taiwan's unification with the mainland, an idea that tended to raise tension in the Taiwan Strait. However, Hu's policy is not to bring about political unification but merely to frustrate any attempt to bring about a formal declaration of independence by Taiwan, which already enjoys de facto independence.

Professor Xu Shiquan, vice chairman of the National Society for Taiwan Studies, who is a leading authority on Taiwan, explained recently in Beijing that the visit by Yok Yu-ming, chairman of Taiwan's New Party, means that all three opposition parties -- the Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang, the People's First Party and the New Party -- which together command a majority in the legislature, have been to Beijing and met with President Hu.