Taiwan and China Historic Meeting: Face-to-face Bridging of the Rift in 66 Years

Last Updated: November 4, 2015
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Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou and China President Xi Jinping has decided to meet for the first time, since the rift between China and Taiwan in 1949 after the defeat of the Nationalist by the Communists.

The meeting of the leaders of the two sides will happen on Saturday, November 5 in Singapore as confirmed by Xinhua, China’s state – run news agency early Wednesday. According to senior officials of both sides, the meeting “would focus on relations across the Taiwan Straits and peace” but the leaders will not be signing any agreements.

China and Taiwan relations had been strained, since Nationalist forces lost the civil war and fled the mainland occupying the island nation. For more than 65 years, the Chinese government continues to claim Taiwan as part of its territory, still considering Taiwan as a breakaway province. There are even warnings of military interventions and reported threats of missiles positioned to the island, should Taiwan declares independence from mainland China.

While the two governments are not on talking terms, but China and Taiwan maintain a growing and vibrant business and trade relations with banks, factories and airline flights operating vice versa. There were massive protests though by students and protesters in 2014 which broke out in Taiwan “over a controversial proposed trade deal with China”. But business is seen as a big window for opportunity that would revive “genuine” friendly relations.

This meeting in Singapore is scheduled in barely three months before Taiwan will hold its elections. China and Taiwan political analysts have their views on the timing of this meeting. But some are seeing this as China’s concern of the election outcome, particularly the stand of the newly elected leader on the issue. Taiwan’s opinion polls is favoring the former minister to China on developing policy, Tsai-Ing-wen, who mainland China does not trust.

On the voters end, some are on the side of incumbent President Xi to stabilize China relations but many voters have expressed worries on Beijing establishing its ground in Taiwan. With Chinese President Ma’s stint in office since he won the elections in 2008, relations with Taiwan had greatly improved.

There are major rifts that need to be bridged, there are tensions that need to be relaxed, hence the meeting of the two leaders in Singapore is a big deal.

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