Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian called this week for peace talks with China to reduce tension and military threats across the Taiwan Strait. The overture was a surprise, because Chen has long been an outspoken advocate of more independence for Taiwan. China, which considers the island a renegade province, has said that any move toward formal statehood for Taiwan would trigger a war. But now that Chinese President Hu Jintao has formally consolidated power, ending a two-year transition from the rule of Jiang Zemin, improved relations with Taiwan could be in the offing. China is not expected to respond to the peace talks offer, though, until after Taiwans December elections.