Xi, Ma to hold historic meeting

By Yuen Yeuk-laam Source:Global Times Published: 2015-11-5 0:33:02

Mainland, Taiwan leaders’ 1st encounter

President Xi Jinping and Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou are scheduled to hold a historic meeting in Singapore on Saturday, a breakthrough in cross-Straits relations that will see for the first time the leaders of the Chinese mainland and Taiwan meet face-to-face since 1949.

The meeting is widely seen as a symbol of goodwill and sincerity from both sides to put aside differences and seek common ground. It is arranged based on a major change of approach from the Chinese mainland after previous attempts for the leaders to meet during international events had failed as the mainland insisted such a meeting is a domestic issue.

The meeting will comprise two stages with one stage open to media and another behind closed doors, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Xi and Ma will shake hands and address each other as "Mister" at the meeting, said Zhang Zhijun, head of the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, on Wednesday.

The two leaders are also expected to dine together after the meeting.

According to   Taiwan media reports, Ma will fly to Singapore to meet Xi.

Zhang said that Xi and Ma will exchange views on promoting peaceful development of cross-Straits relations. They will discuss major issues on deepening cross-Straits cooperation in various areas and improving the people's welfare, in a bid to safeguard and further push forward peaceful development of cross-Straits relations, Zhang said.

He noted that it is a pragmatic arrangement in accordance with the one-China principle while cross-Straits political differences have not been resolved.  

The mainland has always taken "a proactive and open attitude" toward realizing a cross-Straits leaders' meeting, Zhang added.

The Chinese mainland and Taiwan had engaged in drastic military conflicts and sharp political confrontation, until in the late 1980s when the two sides broke the ice. 

Seek common ground

Yang Lixian, a deputy secretary-general of the Beijing-based National Society of Taiwan Studies, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the meeting is a breakthrough as it is the first time a meeting had been arranged in the name of leaders of the mainland and Taiwan.

Previous meetings were arranged only under the names of the chairmen of the CPC and Kuomintang (KMT).

"In the past, Ma suggested several times to meet Xi in the name of the 'president' of Taiwan and insisted to meet at international events, but the mainland rejected this because it is a domestic issue. The meeting this time demonstrates sincerity and goodwill from both sides and that they are both willing to put aside differences and seek common ground," Yang said.

She added that Singapore holds a special meaning for the meeting because the first round of cross-Straits talks was held in 1993 in Singapore, after both sides reached a common understanding the year before, later known as the "1992 Consensus."

The 1992 Consensus stipulates that both sides recognize that there is only one China.

Since reaching the 1992 Consensus, the two sides have inked 23 agreements, solving a range of issues which are closely related to the interests of the people on both sides.

Cross-Straits relations, however, became strained in 2014 after a cross-Straits service trade agreement faced strong opposition, triggering protests in March.

Trade boost

Top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng commented on Wednesday that the meeting will be good news for enterprises from both sides.

Zhang Wensheng, a research fellow at Taiwan Research Institute of Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the meeting will enhance mutual trust of the two sides, and although Ma is no longer leader of the KMT ruling party, he still has a great influence. 

"It is likely that the two will exchange views on issues such as the cross-Straits service trade agreement and may seek to put it forward in order to strengthen peaceful relations," he said.

"The meeting is also likely to have the same positive impact on cross-Straits relations just like in 1993. That the meeting has been brought to leader-level sets a good example to both the mainland and Taiwan that there are unlimited possibilities for development and there are many ways to solve controversies," Zhang Wensheng added.

The Singapore meeting comes before Taiwan's general elections, which will be held in January next year.

In April 2005, Hu Jintao, then general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, and KMT Chairman Lien Chan held the first meeting between top leaders of the two parties in 60 years. They met in the name of the two parties at that time.

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