China, Taiwan set to hold historic meeting after 66 years

Leaders of China and Taiwan plan to gather in breakthrough summit to discuss cross-strait issues

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Xi Jinping (left) and Ma Ying-jeou to hold a historical meeting in Singapore on October 8 2015

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou will meet in a historic meeting for the first time on Saturday since they split amid the Chinese civil war in 1949.   

The two leaders will hold a summit to discuss cross-strait issues in Singapore without signing any deals, according to a statement from Taiwan’s presidential office that was announced early on Wednesday.  

"No agreement will be signed, and no statement issued," presidential spokesman Charles Chen said in the statement.

According to Mr Charles “President Ma aims to promote peace cross the Taiwan Strait and maintain status quo."

The ties between two countries were damaged deeply in 1949 after the nationalist leader of the island, Chiang Kai-shek fled his army following their defeat against Mao Zedong’s Communist forces.

Following Ma’s presidency, the historical relations took new dimensions starting in 2008, as a result of his efforts.

The two countries have signed 23 deals including mostly trade, transit and investment, bringing Taiwan a strong trading partner during Ma’s term.

The breakthrough meeting came just two months before the presidential elections in which the loss of the President’s Nationalist Party was taken for granted by Taiwan due to its close relations with the Beijing.  

The electors believe that the Democratic Progressive Party candidate Tsai Ing-wen will be be the winner of the election as the Nationalist Party has not prepared the election campaign well enough.

The summit is also being followed by the US which has diplomatic relations with China since 1979.

Although the US has been officially following a “one-China” policy, the country also created diplomatic, cultural and defense ties with Taiwan, saying that any dispute between the two countries must be solved peacefully.  

The White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on Tuesday that “we would certainly welcome steps that are taken on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to try to reduce tensions and improve cross-strait relations.”

“We’ll have to see what actually comes out of the meeting.” Earnest added.

There is no further details about the meeting, however, President Ma will then hold an international news conference on Thursday to explain further details, according to the the presidential office.

TRTWorld and agencies