China and Taiwan’s leaders arrive for historic meeting

Published: Saturday 7th November 2015 by The News Editor

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Taiwan’s president has described his meeting with China’s leader Xi Jinping as a “great opportunity”.

Talking to reporters aboard a flight from Taipei to Singapore, where the historic meeting in taking place later Saturday, Ma Ying-jeou said he slept “quite early” last night and was not feeling nervous.

“I feel very calm right now,” he said.

Four Taiwanese fighter jets escorted Mr Ma’s plane shortly after it took off from Taipei, as is tradition of the self-governing island’s air force paying respect to the president.

Taiwan and China’s leaders are holding their first meeting since their territories split during the Chinese civil war in 1949.

According to Taiwan’s Central News Agency, Mr Ma said before his departure from Taipei that he hoped the two leaders would take stock of bilateral relations in the past few years and look to the future.

He said that the meeting would help solidify peace across the Taiwan Strait and maintain what he calls the status quo.

Mr Ma and Mr Xi are due to meet for an hour behind closed doors at the Shangri-la Hotel before having dinner together.

Mr Ma is the successor to Chiang Kai-shek, whose Nationalists retreated to the island, while Mr Xi now leads Mao’s victorious Communists, who set up government in Beijing.

But in the Taiwanese capital Taipei, about 35 people gathered in front of the parliament building to protest against the presidents’ meeting because they believe it to be a precursor to Taiwan becoming part of China.

The group, down from peak of about 200 people overnight, held a banner calling for Taiwan independence, while several dozen police officers guarded the building.

Fang Chuan-sheng, 45, a security guard, said he opposed having Taiwan’s leader meet Mr Xi.

“They are the PRC (People’s Republic of and we are Taiwan. Don’t let the two sides meet up. We will be eaten by Xi Jinping, I’m sure of that,” he said.

Published: Saturday 7th November 2015 by The News Editor

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