Sunday, 8 November 2015

Xi-Ma meeting: China and Taiwan leaders make history in Singapore on 7 November 2015

Historic meeting for Xi Jinping and Ma Ying-jeou in Singapore
By Goh Sui Noi, Senior Writer, The Sunday Times, 8 Nov 2015

Smiling broadly, the leaders of China and Taiwan, separated by a 160km strait and 66 years of confrontation and hostility, shook hands for a full minute and 21 seconds for the cameras - and history books.

The media scrutiny was intense as Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou became the first leaders to meet following the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.

After their handshake, Mr Xi in a red tie and Mr Ma in a blue one - the colours associated with the Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomintang respectively - waved to the mass of journalists before retreating to a conference room at the Shangri-La Hotel for their summit meeting.

Mr Xi spoke first, saying: "No force can pull us apart because we are brothers who are still connected by our flesh even if our bones are broken, we are one family in which blood is thicker than water."

As if speaking to outside forces that might want to interfere in cross-strait matters, he said the two sides had the ability and the wisdom to solve their own problems.

Mr Ma said: "Even though this is the first meeting, we feel like old friends. Behind us is history stretching for 60 years. Now before our eyes, there are fruits of conciliation instead of confrontation."

The two sides have been separately ruled since 1949 and China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province. Ties have warmed since the Beijing-friendly Mr Ma came to power in 2008.

However, as both do not recognise each other's legitimacy, they avoided using "President", instead addressing each other as "Mister" and referring to each other as "leader" of Taiwan or the mainland.

Among the subjects discussed were the setting up of a hotline to deal with emergencies, Taiwan's international space, and peaceful development of cross-strait ties.

However, little of substance was agreed on beyond the hotline.

Singapore's Foreign Ministry yesterday said the Republic was "glad" to have facilitated the summit.

Warm words, but both stand their ground
China, Taiwan leaders' historic meet lacks concrete pledges but seen as step forward
By Goh Sui Noi, Senior Writer, The Sunday Times, 8 Nov 2015

The atmospherics may be friendly and the words warm, but neither leader from opposite sides of the Taiwan Strait conceded an inch.

The result is that the summit, while full of symbolism, was short on substance, although it has great significance in the long-term political integration of mainland China and Taiwan, some analysts have said.

An example of how the two leaders - Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou - stood their ground was their agreement at the meeting to uphold the 1992 consensus as the basis for cross-strait exchanges.

While Mr Xi stressed the one-China principle of that consensus, Mr Ma made clear to Mr Xi that the consensus was that the two sides agreed that there was one China, with each side having its own interpretation of what that one China means.

For his part, Mr Xi gave little away.

Mr Ma had asked for more international space, particularly for Taiwan's non-governmental organisations to participate in international organisations, but Mr Xi's reply was that this would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

While Mr Ma raised the question of Taiwan joining the regional trade pacts Trans Pacific Partnership and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership together with China, Mr Xi appeared to be silent on this, according to a post-summit press conference given by Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) chief, Mr Zhang Zhijun.

Instead, Mr Xi said Taiwan was welcome to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and be part of the China-centred One Belt, One Road initiative for economic development along two modern-day Silk Roads, one by sea and the other by land.

Mr Ma also raised the issue of missiles installed along China's east coast opposite Taiwan.

"I told Mr Xi one of the major concerns is the Chinese military deployment on the opposite side of the Taiwan Strait," Mr Ma told reporters at his post-summit press briefing. "This was the first time such issues were talked about between leaders of the two sides. At least I raised the issues, telling him Taiwan people were concerned about this, and I hope he would pay heed to this."

However, Mr Xi's reply was merely that the missiles were not targeted at Taiwan.

Professor Lin Chong-pin, former deputy defence minister and former vice-chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), agreed with Mr Xi's response, noting that many of the missiles had a range beyond Taiwan island. However, he added that the expectation of the Taiwanese was that Mr Xi would make a "nice gesture" by moving the missiles further inland, away from Taiwan.

But, Prof Lin, now an adjunct professor at the National Defence University, added: "Despite the lack of concrete concessions made by Beijing to Taiwan, it's a very important beginning of government-to-government interchanges."

Noting that formal exchanges now took place only between TAO and MAC, he told The Sunday Times the summit could lead to other ministries having functional exchanges.

He had said earlier in an interview with Taiwan's United Daily News that the Xi-Ma summit signified the realisation of the "one state, two administrations" concept that was mooted by some Chinese scholars some years ago.

"The turning of the wheel towards (political) integration has begun and cannot be turned back," he told The Sunday Times.

But Prof Lin did not think that the summit would do anything for the ailing election campaign of Mr Ma's Kuomintang, which is expected to lose the presidential and legislative elections to the pro-independence opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) come Jan 16.

"The KMT is too weak," he said.

He also noted that voters' dissatisfaction with Mr Ma's administration was not because of his cross-strait or foreign policy, where he had been mostly successful, but because of poor domestic governance.

Agreeing that the summit will have little effect on the elections is DPP stalwart Frank Hsieh, a premier in the DPP government (2000-2008).

This is because DPP candidate Tsai Ing-wen's response to the meeting has been moderate, having said that she would be willing to meet Mr Xi if she were elected president.

However, he pointed to the emphasis on the 1992 consensus as basis for cross-strait exchanges, saying this was meant to restrict the next Taiwan leader to this.

The DPP does not recognise the 1992 consensus and Ms Tsai has refused to comment on this, saying only that she supports the status quo and the peaceful development of cross-strait ties.

If Taiwanese support for the 1992 consensus were to rise because of the summit - it is now around 30 per cent - the DPP would be pressured over it, he said.

Over in China, cross-strait expert Xu Xue of Xiamen University said the significance of the handshake between the two leaders was far greater than what was discussed.

"Although one wore a red tie and the other a blue tie, in that moment, they were really Chinese," he said, adding that he was deeply moved by the scene. It signified that the two sides could create opportunities for peaceful development and Chinese had long desired peace, he said.


We are brothers connected by flesh even if our bones are broken, we are a family whose blood is thicker than water. The development of cross-strait relations over the past 66 years shows that no matter what kind of winds and rains are experienced by compatriots on the two sides, no matter how long divisions last, there is no power that can separate us.



Even though this is the first meeting, we feel like old friends. Behind us is history stretching for 60 years. Now before our eyes there are fruits of conciliation instead of confrontation.


Leaders agree a hotline can help both sides handle emergencies
The Sunday Times, 8 Nov 2015

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said he understands Taiwan's desire for a bigger international presence and agrees with Mr Ma Ying- jeou that a hotline would help the two sides handle emergencies, according to a Chinese official.

"Mr Xi thinks that the setting up of a hotline would help both parties communicate in a timely manner and prevent misjudgment," Taiwan Affairs Office director Zhang Zhijun quoted Mr Xi as saying.

Mr Zhang was speaking at a press conference after a summit between the two leaders yesterday.

Taiwan would also be welcome to take part in the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), said Mr Zhang as he conveyed the words of Mr Xi.

Taiwan's 11th-hour application to join the AIIB stumbled in April over the name under which it would enter the bank.

Beijing has pitched the AIIB, which now has 57 founding members, as an alternative to existing institutions such as the World Bank.

As this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Mr Zhang said Mr Xi has invited his Taiwanese compatriots to co-write history books to "jointly protect cross-strait history". Japan has been heavily criticised for its efforts to whitewash its actions during the war.

While Mr Xi and Mr Ma struck a friendly tone in their first - and most likely last - meeting that was held in Singapore, China maintained a hard stance on Taiwan's sovereignty, which it does not recognise.

"Right now, the biggest threat facing both sides is the pro-Taiwan independence forces. Taiwan's independence will hinder peaceful cross-strait development and bring about disaster," said Mr Zhang.

China's point-man on cross- strait relations added that the Chinese leader is willing to share the fruits of China's growth with the people of Taiwan.

President Ma's Kuomintang (KMT) has caused unease among some Taiwanese by pulling the two sides closer economically. The KMT's candidate, Mr Eric Chu, is trailing the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party's Tsai Ing-wen in opinion polls.

While Mr Zhang said Mr Xi had pledged that China would not get involved in Taiwan's January presidential election, he also said the cross-strait relationship was not state-to-state.

"We shall never accept or tolerate the separatists. We hold the same attitude as always," said Mr Zhang.

During the Q&A session, Mr Zhang said this summit fully demonstrated to the world that the Chinese of both sides of the strait have the ability and wisdom to resolve their own problems.


Posted by 馬英九總統 on Saturday, November 7, 2015

Ma hopes Beijing will use peaceful means to resolve issues
The Sunday Times, 8 Nov 2015

Giving reporters a glimpse into a highly anticipated summit between the leaders of Taiwan and China, Mr Ma Ying-jeou said that he hoped Beijing can use peaceful means, and not force, to resolve cross- strait issues.

Mr Ma emphasised that he had raised some of the most pressing China-related issues for the Taiwanese electorate as the popularity of his ruling Kuomintang plummets, partly over his Beijing-friendly policy.

Describing his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping as "cordial and very positive", Mr Ma praised Mr Xi for being "pragmatic, flexible and candid" during their discussion of cross-strait issues.

"We hope that this spirit can be reflected in the handling of cross-strait ties in the future," he said.

In a press briefing after his hour-long meeting with Mr Xi, Mr Ma said he had challenged the Chinese leader over China's missiles - Taiwan's defence ministry says the mainland has 1,500 trained on the island.

The Taiwanese leader also highlighted that he proposed the establishment of a hotline between the two sides, to which Mr Xi responded positively.

In his bid to transform Taiwan into a hub for higher education in the Asia-Pacific, Mr Ma urged China to let more Chinese college students further their studies in Taiwan.

"I have been pushing for this for many years, but the results are less than ideal," he said, adding that Vietnam, Thailand, India and Indonesia are sending their university lecturers to the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology using public funds.

For years, Taiwan has been marginalised on the international stage by Beijing's insistence that other countries not recognise the Taipei government.

"When our government officials took part in regional economic integration and international events, there were interferences. We hope that there will be less hostility in these areas.

"We hope these things do not continue," said Mr Ma, who told Mr Xi that both sides should exercise "mutual respect".

Mr Xi did not address reporters after the summit, leaving that to Mr Zhang Zhijun, who heads China's Taiwan Affairs Office.

No agreements appear to have been reached between the two sides that still refuse to formally recognise each other's legitimacy.

Mr Ma has expressed hope that the meeting could be a step towards normalising cross-strait relations, but no further plans for closer contact emerged.

"I made it known that I hope both sides will bury the hatchet.

"We want peace, not war," said Mr Ma.


Opposition leader slams Ma
The Sunday Times, 8 Nov 2015

TAIPEI • Taiwan's main opposition leader said yesterday that she was disappointed that President Ma Ying-jeou made no reference to preserving the island's democracy and freedom during his landmark meeting with China's President Xi Jinping in Singapore.

"We had expected Mr Ma to talk about Taiwan's democracy, freedom and the existence of the Republic of China," said Ms Tsai Ing-wen, referring to Taiwan's official name, in televised comments.

"More importantly, the Taiwan people's right to choose freely. But he did not say a word of that."

Prior to the meeting of the two leaders, Ms Tsai who heads the Democratic Progressive Party, told reporters that the three principles on which a meeting of leaders of the two sides can take place would be: parity of the leaders, transparency and no political pre-conditions.

Yesterday, she slammed Mr Ma for failing to safeguard all three principles. "Instead, the only result was to create on the international stage a political framework limiting the choices of the Taiwan people," she said.

She would use "democratic means" to rectify the damage caused by yesterday's meeting, reported Taiwanese broadcaster TVBS.


27 held amid protests in Taiwan over Xi-Ma meet
The Sunday Times, 8 Nov 2015

TAIPEI • Protesters tried to storm Parliament overnight and 27 people were arrested at the airport yesterday over Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, which Mr Ma's opponents call a sell-out to Beijing.

At Taipei's Songshan airport where Mr Ma gave a brief address to reporters before boarding his flight to Singapore, protesters tried to burn images of the two leaders.

The 27 were arrested after they attempted to push their way through a guarded side gate.

Later, up to 500 protesters, representing an array of groups including farmers, rights activists and environmentalists, raged over the cordial get-together at the Shangri-La Hotel where Mr Ma told Mr Xi that they already "feel like old friends".

"How can he... without any negotiation go to meet with the leader of our enemy? I believe this is getting to the level of treason," said Taiwan Association of University Professors vice-chairman Lin Hsiu-hsin.

Yesterday, hundreds of angry protesters gathered outside Mr Ma's office, condemning his warm exchange with Mr Xi at the summit which has fuelled fears that the island will be swallowed up by its giant rival.

The talks have been hailed as a historic opportunity to end decades of hostility between the two sides which split after a civil war, but there has been a backlash among Taiwanese suspicious about Mr Ma's rapprochement policy.

Ties with China have blossomed under Mr Ma. As presidential elections loom in January, there are deep suspicions over the reasons for the summit, declared less than a week ago, and fears that China is trying to secure another victory for Mr Ma's Kuomintang party, which is lagging behind badly in the polls.

In Singapore, the police escorted several members of the anti-China Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) out of a hotel yesterday, Taiwanese media reported. A TSU spokesman in Taipei said legislative candidate Hsiao Ya-tan was "taken away by police" with two of her assistants.

The Singapore police, in a statement, said they were interviewing five Taiwanese nationals amid a security clampdown at the Shangri-La Hotel, but did not say if they were from the same group.

"Foreigners in Singapore are reminded to comply with our laws and heed the directions of the police and other officials.

"Those who break the law will be firmly dealt with," the statement said.


Tension, drama and a long shake of hands
The handshake between Xi and Ma lasted 81 seconds as the media jostled to capture the historic event
By Kor Kian Beng, China Bureau Chief, The Sunday Times, 8 Nov 2015

A 66-year rift. An unusually long handshake lasting 81 seconds. An hour-long summit meeting followed by back-to-back press conferences, each lasting 30 minutes.

These are the numbers that some might remember about the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou at Shangri-La Hotel yesterday.

But hard numbers do not tell the full story.

It was a historic event after all, which meant it would have its share of tension, drama and some light- hearted moments.

Frayed nerves were visible early on among the 600-plus registered journalists, all worried they would not get a good view of the first-ever meeting between the leaders of China and Taiwan, estranged since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.

Many began queueing in the morning to clear security in the hotel lobby and to enter a ballroom where the handshake would take place at 3pm. There were heated moments early on when the queues became disorderly and queue-cutting took place.

To the credit of the hotel staff, and officials, including those from Singapore who responded to a request for help by the Chinese and Taiwanese governments, order was restored.

Inside the ballroom, tensions rose again as the media jostled for a good spot. At one point, there was mass chanting by those at the back to get those in front to move aside, or to lower their cameras so as not to block the view.

It took the low-key entrance of Mr Xi and Mr Ma to silence the media pack briefly before the burst of camera flashes started.

Mr Xi reached the room's centre, ahead of Mr Ma, who took an extra step forward for their historic handshake.

Both leaders smiled for the cameras - Mr Xi's smile a bit more reserved - and kept their hands locked for 81 seconds.

In an adjoining room, six senior aides from each side were waiting for the meeting to begin. When the presidents entered, both responded gamely to requests for them to wave for the cameras.

When they sat down at the long table, a mad media scrum ensued. There was a loud thump as someone fell.

Mr Xi was the first to give the opening remarks. He spoke for about three minutes, followed by Mr Ma. It is said that each leader had five minutes.

When Mr Ma overran his time, Chinese security officers began ushering the media out, though their Taiwanese counterparts asked the Taiwan media to stay until Mr Ma had finished speaking. The Chinese security officers asserted themselves and got the entire media out.

Following the meeting were the two press conferences, the first by China's Taiwan Affairs Office head Zhang Zhijun and the second by Mr Ma himself.

A Taiwanese journalist provided drama throughout. She shouted at the top of her voice to try to get the attention of Mr Zhang and later Mr Ma. She voiced her unhappiness with the Singapore media for asking questions about what she said was a Taiwan issue. Later, she scolded her President for not answering her question.

But a good-humoured Mr Ma, whose dinner with Mr Xi reportedly included suckling pig, abalone and lobster, provided some levity when asked about the handshake. "It felt very good. We both shook hands with a lot of strength," he said, triggering laughter from the media after a long, hard and historic day.

PM Lee meets Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou
The Straits Times, 7 Nov 2015

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou who was here for a landmark China-Taiwan meeting on Saturday (Nov 7).

"Caught up with President Ma Ying-jeou over tea this evening. Glad his meeting here went well. Hope this will lead to greater stability and prosperity for the region," PM Lee wrote in a Facebook post.

Caught up with President Ma Ying-jeou over tea this evening. Glad his meeting here went well. Hope this will lead to...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday, November 7, 2015

Singapore was requested by China and Taiwan to facilitate the meeting between Mr Ma and Chinese President Xi Jinping who was here for a two-day state visit.

In an earlier statement on Saturday, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said Singapore was glad to facilitate the historic meeting.

"Building on the foundation of the 1993 Wang-Koo talks, this successful meeting has established a precedent for top leaders of both sides to directly engage each other," said the spokesman in response to media queries.

In 1993, Singapore played host to the so-called "Wang-Koo" meeting that saw Taiwan and China discuss bilateral ties.

Singapore 'glad to facilitate meeting'
By Jeremy Lee, The Straits Times, 9 Nov 2015

Singapore has been a consistent supporter of relations between China and Taiwan, including direct cross-strait dialogue and the institutionalisation of cross-strait exchanges, said a spokesman for Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou that took place last Saturday.

The MFA, in response to queries from the media on the historic meeting, said Singapore was "glad to facilitate" the summit.

"Building on the foundation of the 1993 Wang-Koo talks, this successful meeting has established a precedent for top leaders of both sides to directly engage each other," the spokesman said, referring to a meeting that also took place in Singapore between Mr Wang Daohan, chairman of China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, and Mr Koo Chen-fu, chief of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation.

Calling Singapore a "good and long-time friend of both sides", the MFA also said it looks forward to "sustained peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, which will enhance the security and prosperity of our region".

Mr Ma, in reply to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's Facebook post late last Saturday on the leaders' meeting, also mentioned the Wang-Koo talks, as well as his meeting with former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew at the East Asian Economic Summit in 2003.

Thanking PM Lee and Singapore for the "warm welcome", the Taiwan leader highlighted how Singapore had played a vital role in facilitating peaceful cross- strait relations.

"Without you and your father, none of this could have happened," he added.

Replying to Mr Ma's comment, Mr Lee described Singapore as an "old friend" of China and Taiwan.

Reactions in the US

Summit welcomed but concerns remain
By Jeremy Au Yong, US Bureau Chief In Washington, The Straits Times, 9 Nov 2015

The historic meeting between the leaders of China and Taiwan was welcomed by Washington, even if there remains little consensus here on whether the summit will increase long-term stability in the region.

Since news emerged last week that Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou would meet in Singapore, the Obama administration has been making remarks of support.

That was no different after the meeting took place last Saturday, with State Department spokesman John Kirby issuing a statement repeating many of the talking points made by the White House days earlier. "The United States welcomes the meeting between leaders on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and the historic improvement in cross-strait relations in recent years," said Mr Kirby, while reiterating the US' continued commitment to its "one China" policy.

"The United States has a deep and abiding interest in peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait."

Analysts say, however, the White House would certainly not view the meeting as an unqualified success. Given existing concerns in the US capital about what a likely win for the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) next year would mean for cross-strait ties, one worry is that Mr Ma might agree to something in private that his successor would never accept.

Said Dr Patrick Cronin, senior director of the Asia-Pacific security programme at the Centre for a New American Security: "The US supports cross-strait diplomacy but does not want a lame duck president to force political preconditions on his democratically elected successor."

Then there is the question of how Mr Xi's show of diplomacy will play if a DPP government appears uncooperative. It may be harder for Washington to support Taiwan if Beijing is presenting an amicable front and the DPP, lead by Ms Tsai Ing-wen, the presidential front runner, is not.

As Mr Douglas Paal, a former director of the American Institute in Taiwan, wrote in an article for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: "A two-leaders' meeting will be a very high bar for Tsai to jump to maintain the status quo."

He added that the US should also consider the meeting in the context of its Asia pivot. Mr Paal said the meeting is part of Beijing's attempt to counterbalance the US rebalance. "He (Xi) will have given China's always sceptical neighbours material reasons not always to resist Chinese preferences in deference to American interests."

Reactions in Taiwan

Media divided on merits of historic meeting
By Teo Cheng Wee, The Straits Times, 9 Nov 2015

Taiwanese media argued about the merits of their President Ma Ying-jeou's meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, as some news outlets praised his efforts while others said it served only to confirm Taiwan's subservience to the mainland.

Wide coverage was afforded to the historic meeting last Saturday in Singapore, which had been painted by opponents of Mr Ma as either an election ploy or a punt at personal glory.

Ms Tsai Ing-wen, leader of Taiwan's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said yesterday that the leaders' meeting had not made Taiwanese feel safer.

The presidential front runner said that "only the majority public opinion on Jan 16 can decide Taiwan's future and cross-strait relations".

Some Taiwanese academics said the key concern after the Ma-Xi meeting is whether the two sides will continue on a path of peaceful development after Taiwan's presidential election in January, the Central News Agency reported.

At a seminar on the outlook for cross-strait relations after the Ma-Xi meeting, Professor Kou Chien-wen, who is the director of the Graduate Institute of East Asian Studies at National Chengchi University, also said it would be worth watching if negotiations on a cross-strait trade-in-goods agreement will yield substantial results over the next few months.

Pro-ruling Kuomintang (KMT) media played up the significance of the meeting and the outcome achieved by Mr Ma.

The most important effect of the meeting between the two leaders is that it has consolidated the 1992 consensus and maintained a framework of dignity among equals, said an editorial in United Daily News.

Mr Ma made it clear to Mr Xi the consensus was that the two sides agreed there was one China, with each side having its own interpretation of what that one China means.

A survey released yesterday showed that nearly 50 per cent of the people in Taiwan believe the meeting was beneficial to efforts to promote peace.

The survey, commissioned by the legislative caucus of Mr Ma's KMT, showed that 48.1 per cent of respondents said the meeting was either "very" or "somewhat" helpful in promoting cross-strait peace.

Pro-independence media, however, slammed the meeting.

An editorial in Taipei Times compared Mr Ma meeting Mr Xi to "an emperor summoning a subordinate to meet him".

Reactions in China

Media praises Xi, Ma for foresight and leadership
By Teo Cheng Wee, China Correspondent In BeijingThe Straits Times, 9 Nov 2015

China's media was effervescent yesterday about the historic meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, saying it anchored the future of cross-strait relations, allowing ties to flourish.

News reports stressed the significance of an event that happened 66 years after the two sides split in 1949 at the end of a civil war, with many giving it prominent coverage, while praising the leadership and foresight of the two men.

Pictures of Mr Xi and Mr Ma shaking hands, as well as holding talks, were placed on the front page of Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily. "History will remember this day," said the headline of one news article it ran.

A commentary by state news agency Xinhua said: "This begins a new scenario for development between the two sides."

Professor Yin Cunyi at Tsinghua University said the meeting has marked an irreversible progress in cross-strait ties.

"Any side which attempts to reverse the trend of peace and cooperation will lose the support of the people," the professor in Taiwan relations told the China Daily.

Media reports were quick to note the negative consequences that could be in store if Taiwan's future political leaders decided to take a harder line with Beijing.

Taiwan goes to the polls next January, in an election predicted to hand Mr Ma's Kuomintang a defeat and sweep the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and its leader Tsai Ing-wen to power.

Commentators questioned if Ms Tsai will uphold the 1992 consensus, which the pro-independence DPP does not recognise. Ms Tsai has so far refused to comment on this issue.

Taiwan independence is still the biggest threat to peace, said a commentary in The Beijing News, and Taiwan will "need to consider if following the proven path of peace, or changing directions suddenly, will be more beneficial" to its future.

Noting that the DPP still has not removed the proposition for independence from its charter, the Communist Party-linked Global Times said the Taiwanese public should demand assurance from Ms Tsai that the DPP also upholds the 1992 consensus.

While the Xi-Ma meeting is historic, implementing its outcomes rests on the Taiwanese public, said the Global Times' editorial.

"This means the destiny of Taiwan's future rests in the hands of its society."

Ma addresses critics over summit with Xi
He says he fulfilled his duty as Taiwan's president at historic meeting
The Straits Times, 13 Nov 2015

TAIPEI • Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou has hit back at opponents who have accused him of selling out by holding a historic summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Mr Ma said he had not shied away from referring to Taiwan as the Republic of China (ROC), its official name, which China does not recognise. "I stated it so clearly," he told broadcaster TVBS in an interview that aired on Wednesday. "No one in history has said it before to the mainland's leader, so I feel I fulfilled my duty as Taiwan's president."

The meeting in Singapore last Saturday was the first between leaders of the two sides since their split in 1949 at the end of the Chinese civil war. Although it is a self-ruling democracy, Taiwan has never formally declared independence from Beijing, which sees it as a renegade province to be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary.

Since his 2008 election, Mr Ma and his Kuomintang (KMT) party have bound the island closer to the mainland, with the start of direct flights that ramped up tourism, and an increase in Chinese investment.

But his policy of alignment is increasingly unpopular in Taiwan and the KMT looks set to get a thumping in presidential elections due next year, which the nominally pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) appears set to win.

DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen said the summit was a personal vanity project for Mr Ma, and that it ran the risk of locking Taiwan too tightly to China.

"(Mr Ma) tried to limit Taiwan's future into a political framework to achieve his own political status, completely taking away the freedom of choice for 23 million people," said Ms Tsai.


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