China and Taiwan’s leaders to meet after decades of hostility

Published: Wednesday 4th November 2015 by The News Editor

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China’s President Xi Jinping and his Taiwanese counterpart Ma Ying-jeou are to make history in a landmark meeting, following nearly eight years of quickly-improved relations between the two sides.

The presidents of the two sides have not met since Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalists lost the Chinese civil war to Mao’s communists in the 1940s.

News of the meeting in Singapore on Saturday from the Chinese cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office came hours after Taiwan announced the meeting.

The two would be meeting in their capacity as “leaders of the two sides” of the Taiwan Strait, office director Zhang Zhijun was quoted as saying.

That appeared to afford them equal status, possibly an effort to blunt criticism from the pro-independence opposition in Taiwan who accuse Mr Ma’s Nationalist Party of pandering to China’s ruling Communist Party.

“This is pragmatic arrangement given the situation of the irresolution of cross-strait political differences and one on the of the one-China principle,” Mr Zhang said.

Taiwanese presidential spokesman Charles Chen said the leaders would exchange ideas about relations between the two sides, but not sign any deals.

After the civil war the Nationalist Party rebased itself in Taiwan, 100 miles away, in 1949. The two sides have been ruled separately since then, with Taiwan evolving into a freewheeling democracy.

China insists that the two sides eventually reunite, by force if necessary.

The two sides never talked formally until Mr Ma, the Nationalist president since 2008, lay aside old hostilities to set up lower-level official meetings.

China and Taiwan have signed 23 deals covering mainly trade, transit and investment, binding Taiwan closer to its top trading partner and the world’s second-largest economy.

Published: Wednesday 4th November 2015 by The News Editor

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