Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou congratulated China’s new and outgoing leaders in a rare political gesture.

“Looking towards the future, the great cause of rejuvenating the Chinese nation is in the ascendant, the two sides of the Strait expect a strengthening of mutual trust and sincere cooperation, which will benefit the people on the two sides,” China’s Xinhua news agency quoted Ma as saying in a message.

The message came after the conclusion of the once-a-decade 18th Party Congress which appointed Xi Jinping as successor of Hu Jintao, along with a new line-up of leaders. Mr. Xi is set to take over the helm of both the ruling Communist Party and the Central Military Commission.

Mr. Xi responded saying that he hoped the the Communist Party and Ma’s National Party would “seize a historic opportunity to improve ties”.

Relations between the two have dramatically improved since Ma took office in 2008 and spearheaded a series of trade and tourism deals with the mainland. However, no progress has been made towards political reconciliation as China still considers Taiwan as part of its territory and would readily use force for reunification.