(Bloomberg) -- Chinese officials are set to visit Taiwan for the first time in three years, resuming low-level dialog that may pave the way for the resumption of normal travel to the democratically run island.

While visitors from China still require official approval, “the Taiwan government hopes the trip will help both sides of the strait begin orderly exchanges and facilitate mutual understanding,” according to a statement from the Taipei-based Mainland Affairs Council. 

“The government will cautiously evaluate the gradual resumption of cross-strait exchanges of people and traffic with strengthened management mechanisms to maintain the best interests of Taiwan,” it said. 

Officials from Shanghai’s Taiwan Affairs Office are set to arrive on Saturday for a three day trip at the invitation of the opposition Kuomintang-run Taipei City government. They’ll attend Taipei’s Lantern Festival — a common form of exchange before strict Covid-control measures effectively halted travel. 

While meetings between local government figures were relatively frequent prior to the pandemic, the latest approval suggests Taiwan is seeking to normalize relations with Beijing amid growing concerns that China could follow through on its decades-long threats to invade the island, potentially triggering a conflict with the US. 

President Xi Jinping also appears to be recalibrating his hardline approach to Taiwan before the island holds a presidential election next year. Beijing this month welcomed a visit from Andrew Hsia, vice chairman of the KMT — the government’s preferred negotiating partner and one with a shot at winning.

Hsia reiterated his party’s opposition to Taiwan’s independence at a Wednesday meeting with officials in Chongqing, according to a local media report. He also committed to uphold the so-called 1992 consensus — a tacit understanding between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party that both sides of the strait are part of China — which has underpinned decades of talks between the two former civil-war enemies.

--With assistance from Cindy Wang.

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.