‘Historic’ Xi-Ma meeting held ahead of expected independence supporters’ presidential election win in Taiwan

China's President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou , the first between the leaders of the two sides in 66 years, in Singapore on Nov 7, 2015.
China’s President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou , the first between the leaders of the two sides in 66 years, in Singapore on Nov 7, 2015. (Photo courtesy: bloomberg.com)

(TibetanReview.net, Nov09, 2015) – China has hailed the meeting between its President Mr Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, the first between the leaders of the two sides in 66 years, in Singapore on Nov 7, as historic. It was a carefully choreographed meeting in which the two leaders addressed each other as ‘mister’, with Xi wearing a red tie and Ma a blue one in their otherwise uniformly dark suits. China’s official Xinhua news agency also did not use the term ‘People’s Republic of China’, represented by Xi, or the Republic of China, represented by Ma. And the meeting took place in the neutral territory of Singapore.

“Today will be remembered in history,” Xinhua quoted Xi as saying in his opening remarks before a closed-door meeting with Ma.

The meeting was bitterly opposed and protested against by independence supporters in Taiwan.

Xinhua cited Zhang Zhijun, China’s Taiwan affairs chief, as telling a press conference that Xi had made a four-point proposal on cross-Strait relations, most notably a call for adhering to the common political consensus of the two sides, referring to the 1992 Consensus reached between the two sides that endorses the one-China principle. “The peaceful development of cross-Strait relations over the past seven years lies in adhering to the 1992 Consensus and opposing Taiwan independence,” Xi was quoted as saying.

Ma, in turn, was reported to have made a five-point proposal, most notably that “we should consolidate the 1992 Consensus, and maintain the peaceful status quo.” He was reported to have added that the two sides should cooperate and be committed to the revival of the Chinese nation, as the peoples of the both sides across the Strait are all Chinese descendants.

The “1992 consensus,” a term Taiwan’s former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi in 2006 admitted to making up in 2000, refers to a tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means, noted taipeitimes.com Nov 8.

The meeting took place ahead of the presidential election in Taiwan in which Ma’s pro-unification KMT candidate is expected to lose to the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate. Xi obviously had that in mind when Xinhua quoted him as having said, “We are sitting together today to prevent the historical tragedy from repeating itself, prevent the fruits from peaceful development of cross-Strait ties from being lost again, enable compatriots across the Strait to continue to create a peaceful life, and enable our next generations to share a bright future.”

Members of “third-force” political parties – parties other than the KMT and the main opposition, pro-independence DPP – gathered in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei to protest the meeting. Green Party-Social Democratic Party alliance legislative candidate Lee Ken-cheng said that Ma stressed the “one China” principle of the “1992 consensus” without mentioning the “different interpretations” component, which was in line with the “one China” principle upheld by the CCP, making Taiwan an appendage to China and betraying the Taiwanese public’s trust, said the taipeitimes.com report.

Criticizing the DPP for failing in its role as the largest opposition party, the alliance has called on opposition parties to clarify their China policies and protest the Ma administration’s “opaque dealings.”

Meanwhile, a commentary in China’s party mouthpiece People’s Daily Nov 8 said the two leaders sitting together showed a desire not to let the “tragedy of history” repeat itself nor to let the fruits of peaceful development be lost. It warned that those who wish to push for Taiwan’s independence risked overturning the “boat of peace” and must be stopped.

Progress over the past seven years – referring to the rule of the China-friendly Ma – has been possible due to a joint political will to oppose Taiwan independence and accept there is “one China”, albeit with different interpretations, the commentary was cited as saying. “Compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait must join together and resolutely oppose the Taiwan independence forces and their separatist activities,” Reuters Nov 8 quoted the commentary as saying.

China’s Nationalists, the KMT, retreated to Taiwan after losing the civil war to the Communists in 1949. China sees Taiwan as a renegade province waiting to be reunited with the motherland and has not ruled out the use of force to retake it.


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