Xi-Ma meeting is a breakthrough in cross-Strait ties

World Today

This combination of file photos show Taiwan’s Ma Ying-jeou, left, and China’s President Xi Jinping. Ma and Xi will meet Saturday, Nov. 7 in Singapore for the first time since civil war divided their lands 66 years ago. (AP Photo/File)

Xi Jinping and Ma Ying-jeou will salute each other in their historic meeting on Saturday in Singapore, marking a breakthrough in face-to-face exchanges and communication between the two leaders across the Taiwan Strait after hardships and twists since 1949.

In line with the one-China principle, the Chinese mainland and Taiwan reached the pragmatic arrangement, showing their willingness to push aside differences while respecting each other, Zhang Zhijun, head of the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said here Wednesday.

The scheduled meeting of Xi and Ma, in their capacity as “leaders of the two sides” of the Taiwan Strait, was hailed by Zhang as a milestone in nearly seven decades for cross-Strait relations, saying it will “create new space” for ties and lift cross-Strait exchanges and interaction to a new level.

The meeting comes at a key moment in cross-Strait relations, which is again at a crossroads, Zhang said, adding that it will help enhance trust across the Strait, strengthen common political ground, push forward peaceful development of cross-Strait relations and safeguard peace and stability in the region.

The Kuomintang (KMT), Taiwan’s ruling party, said in an online statement, the meeting will be “a major watershed” for the two sides to realize mutually beneficial cooperation.

Wang Jin-pyng, head of Taiwan’s legislature, said the legislature supports any cross-Strait dialogue that is conducive to regional peace and stability, and expects the meeting a success.

Xi and Ma will exchange views on promoting peaceful development of cross-Strait relations and discuss major issues in deepening cross-Strait cooperation and improving people’s welfare, Zhang said.

The two leaders are also expected to attend a dinner after the meeting.

Relations between the mainland and Taiwan stalled when KMT forces, led by Chiang Kai-shek, fled to Taiwan in 1949 after a civil war.

The two sides had military conflicts and sharp political confrontations until the late 1980s, when they broke the ice on their mutual isolation.

The 1992 Consensus, reached in talks between the two sides across the Strait in 1992, endorses the one-China principle, which has received wide global recognition.

The Xi-Ma meeting is scheduled to take place in Singapore after “various considerations,” Zhang said, without giving more details.

It’s no coincidence that Singapore was chosen as venue.

In April 1993, Wang Daohan, head of the mainland’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), and Koo Chen-fu, chairman of the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), met in Singapore, paving the way for improvement of cross-Strait ties.

Founded in 1990 and 1991, respectively, the ARATS and the SEF are non-governmental organizations authorized by the mainland and Taiwan to engage in cross-Strait consultations.

More than a decade ago, a meeting of leaders across the Strait would not have been possible, Zhang said, due to provocative maneuvers of Taiwan secessionist forces that put the situation into crisis.

In April 2005, Hu Jintao, then general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, and then KMT Chairman Lien Chan held the first meeting between top leaders of the two political parties in six decades.

“For the past seven years,” Zhang said, “the two sides have built up mutual trust and opened up a path of peaceful development of ties on the common political foundations of the 1992 Consensus and opposition to Taiwan independence.”

The two sides have inked 23 agreements through consultations between the ARATS and the SEF, solving a range of issues that are closely related to interests of the people on both sides.

Cross-Strait economic cooperation has been deepened, and “three direct links,” referring to direct mail, transport and trade links across the Strait, have been achieved, benefiting people on both sides.

Enhanced exchanges in various areas have resulted in closer ties between the people, Zhang said, adding that the two sides have also reduced internal frictions in handling foreign affairs through consultations.

Cross-Strait affairs chiefs have been involved in mutual visits since a regular communication mechanism was institutionalized in 2014.

“The meeting between Xi and Ma was the result of the concerted efforts of both sides and all compatriots, benefiting from cumulative results achieved in the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations,” Zhang said.

People on both sides hope relations to remain peaceful and stable and bring greater welfare, and the meeting between the two leaders will be a significant move that complies with people’s wishes and current trends, Zhang said.

The mainland has always taken “a proactive and open attitude” toward holding a cross-Strait leaders’ meeting, Zhang said.

The Xi-Ma meeting is “significant” and has “positive meaning” for the long-term development of cross-Strait relations, the mainland official said.

Story by Xinhua

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