Singapore (AsiaNews) – Last minute preparations are still underway in Singapore for tomorrow’s historic meeting between Taiwan’s Ma Ying-jeou and mainland China’s Xi Jinping.
World media has already descended on the Shangri-La Hotel, where the two presidents are set to meet under tight security.
By noon today, several security gates were installed in front of the ballroom area in the Tower Wing, which will be blocked off from 2 am on Saturday. At 3.10 pm, the two leaders will begin their closed-door meeting.
Whilst the president of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has not spoken about meeting, the president of the Republic of China (ROC, based in Taiwan) answered questions from reporters yesterday.
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou reiterated that the main purpose of the meeting was to maintain the status quo, which means “no independence, no unification, no use of force”.
He insisted that mainland China and Taiwan reserved the right to define in their own way how to define the 'One-China' principle*.
At the same times, he wants to boost Taiwan’s international stature. “Taiwan has for quite some time encountered no small amount of trouble participating in international events and we frequently hear from the public about this, especially non-governmental organisations,” he said.
“Therefore, at this Ma-Xi meeting, we will raise the issue and hope to come to some agreement about it and allow Taiwan to have an expanded international space.”
No economic agreements will be signed nor any joint communiqué issued, he added. Territorial disputes in the South China Sea are also off the table.
The timing for the summit was the result of negotiations, following last year’s APEC (Asia-Pacific Economy Cooperation) summit in Beijing.
“Originally I wanted to meet him at APEC [in Manila later this month], but since the other side does not have time there was no other option.”
Taiwan’s opposition reacted to the meeting with the Chinese President with suspicion, coming two months before the island’s elections, seeing it as an attempt by the ruling Kuomintang to close the gap with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and its presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen, which are currently leading in the polls.
In Taipei, hundreds of people took to the streets to oppose the “sellout” of Taiwan to the mainland. Ma rejected the criticism.
“This is not about an election, but is based on the considerations of the happiness of the next generation,” he said. “It is out of the hope of making the first step toward making exchanges between leaders on both sides of the Taiwan Strait a regular occurrence.”
Under Generalissimo Sun Yat-sen, the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party) was defeated in China’s civil war (1945-1949) by the Communist Party of Mao Tse-tung. What was left of its government and army fled to the island of Taiwan (aka Formosa). Since then, the top leaders of the two Chinas had never met.
* Under the One-China policy, China includes the mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. In 1992, the PRC and the ROC reached a consensus, the ‘1992 Consensus’, on the principle of a single sovereign Chinese state, but disagree as to which of the two is the legitimate government of this state.