Friday, 6 November 2015

Xi-Ma summit: Both sides asked Singapore to facilitate meeting - Ministry of Foreign Affairs

China and Taiwan to hold historic summit in Singapore
By Goh Sui Noi, Senior Writer, The Straits Times, 5 Nov 2015

Singapore was requested by both the Chinese and the Taiwanese to facilitate the meeting between their respective top leaders, President Xi Jinping and President Ma Ying-jeou, the Republic's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said.

"As a close and longstanding friend of both mainland China and Taiwan, we are happy to facilitate and be the venue for their direct dialogue," the ministry said in a statement yesterday.

It added that the Xi-Ma summit was separate from the state visit of Mr Xi to Singapore to mark the 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

The Kuomintang moved to Taiwan after losing the civil war to the Chinese Communist Party in 1949, and the two sides have been separately ruled since then.

People-to-people and trade exchanges between the two sides began in the late 1980s and, in April 1993, landmark high-level talks between the two sides were held in Singapore.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in its statement, recalled the historic "Wang-Koo talks" as they were called, after the surnames of the representatives from the two sides.

The two men were 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 (SEF). Both organisations were semi-official.

The venue of the talks, from April 27 to 29, was the conference room on the 26th level of the NOL Building in Alexandra Road.

On why Singapore was chosen as a venue for the talks, SEF secretary-general Cheyne Chiu said then that the preference was to hold the first high-level meeting "in a neutral third country". Holding them in either Taiwan or mainland China would be "awkward" for the two sides. He added that the choice of Singapore was unanimous.

The talks yielded four agreements to promote trade and people-to-people exchanges.

Cross-strait ties burgeoned after that, apart from blips in 1995 and 1996.

Mr Wang and Mr Koo met again in 1998 in Shanghai before talks stalled from 1999 after then Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui's characterising of cross-strait ties as special state-to-state relations in July that year and the subsequent coming to power of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party in 2000.

It was not till 2008 that ties began to warm again after Mr Ma became president.

Now, near the end of his term next May, comes the momentous event that, said Singapore's former foreign minister George Yeo, "will hopefully open a new chapter in the history of China and the peaceful revival of the Chinese nation".

Mr Yeo, now chairman of Hong Kong-based Kerry Logistics, added: "The symbolism of the meeting itself will alter the psychology of cross-strait relations in a positive way for years to come."

He noted too that it was no accident that Singapore should provide the venue. "Singapore has a 'One China' policy and has close relations with both the mainland and Taiwan. We are linked to both by history, culture and blood."

He lauded the pragmatic approach of the two leaders in agreeing to meet, saying it was good news not just for the Chinese and Taiwanese people but also for Singapore and many people in Asia.

"Better cross-strait relations create better conditions for peaceful development in the entire region," he said.

Singapore a venue both sides could agree on
By Goh Sui Noi, The Straits Times, 6 Nov 2015

The Xi-Ma summit could have been held in Manila instead of Singapore, if not for the objection of Beijing.

Mr Andrew Hsia, who heads Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), revealed that the subject of the summit was raised by his Chinese counterpart, Mr Zhang Zhijun of China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), when they met last month.

Mr Hsia then suggested to Mr Zhang that the meeting be held during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Manila on Nov 18-19, reported Taiwan's Central News Agency. It added that this exchange took place while the two men were on a night tour of the Pearl River in Guangzhou city.

Mr Zhang rejected the suggestion, saying it was not suitable.

China had in September last year rejected Taiwan's proposal to hold such a summit on the sidelines of the Apec leaders' meeting in Beijing in November, said a source.

Taipei traditionally sends a retired top government official to the Apec meeting as China objects to a sitting Taiwan president attending.

So had Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou met Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines in Beijing, it would have been taken to mean that China agreed to allow a sitting Taiwan president to attend Apec meetings. It was a precedent Beijing probably did not want to start, hence the rejection.

However, Manila as a venue was likely also not acceptable to Beijing because of the two countries' chilly ties over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

"I thought of the Koo-Wang talks that were held in Singapore and therefore suggested Singapore," said Mr Hsia, referring to the first direct cross-strait talks in 1993 between Mr Koo Chen-fu and Mr Wang Daohan, the respective heads of the MAC and TAO. Mr Zhang's reply was: "We can consider this."

Xi-Ma meeting in Singapore a 'milestone' in ties
By Kor Kian Beng, China Bureau Chief In BeijingThe Straits Times, 5 Nov 2015

The historic meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou in Singapore on Saturday is aimed at consolidating cross-strait peace and cementing a political foundation for peaceful development, say both governments.

China's Taiwan Affairs Office chief Zhang Zhijun was quoted by the Xinhua news agency yesterday as saying the meeting will "mark a start of direct exchange and communication between leaders of the mainland and Taiwan".

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council chief Andrew Hsia said at a press conference that a key aim of the meeting is to consolidate cross-strait peace and maintain the status quo.

The first meeting of presidents from both sides since the Chinese civil war ended and the KMT fled to Taiwan in 1949 will take place after Mr Xi's two-day state visit to Singapore starting Friday to mark 25 years of diplomatic relations.

Singapore's Foreign Ministry said the Republic was asked by both sides to help facilitate the meeting and it was happy to do so as "a close and longstanding friend" of both. It called the meeting a "milestone" in the history of cross-strait ties since 1949.

Mr Xi and Mr Ma are expected to hold separate press conferences after their summit, reported to be at the Shangri-La Hotel by Taiwanese media, and have dinner together. Mr Zhang said both men will greet each other as "Mister", instead of their titles, as neither officially recognises the other as head of state.

The announcement of the meeting late on Tuesday by Mr Ma's spokesman surprised many, given both leaders' recent words and deeds.

Mr Xi reportedly rejected Mr Ma's request to meet at the Apec summit in Beijing last November. Mr Ma said previously he would not meet a Chinese president while in office unless there was a need and public support.

Observers say a key factor for the meeting is a mutual desire to improve the KMT's chances in Taiwan's presidential election next January, where the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is tipped to wrest power.

Ms Tsai Ing-wen, the DPP presidential candidate who is leading KMT chairman and candidate Eric Chu in opinion polls, yesterday criticised the "hasty and chaotic" manner of the announcement as "damaging to Taiwan's democracy".

Mr Hsia said the meeting was broached by Mr Zhang and there was nothing rushed or opaque about Taiwan's push for it.

Elsewhere, most are cautiously optimistic, with Washington welcoming steps to reduce tensions by its strategic rival China and ally Taiwan. The Taiwan stock market yesterday had its highest close since July on optimism that the meeting would improve cross-strait ties.

Meeting with Xi not an election tactic, says Ma
Taiwanese leader says landmark meeting with Chinese President 'is for the welfare of the next generation'
By Goh Sui Noi, Senior WriterThe Straits Times, 6 Nov 2015

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou defended his landmark summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Singapore tomorrow, saying it is for the good of the next generation of Taiwanese amid speculation that he was trying to boost his Kuomintang's flailing election campaign.

"The summit is not for the next election, it is for the welfare of the next generation. I feel it is my duty to build a bridge for the two sides, so whoever is the next president can use it to cross the river," Mr Ma told a press conference yesterday.

"We will explain the actual situation to Mr Xi, particularly tell them about Taiwan's status so they can better understand and take it in full consideration when they formulate Taiwan, cross-strait policies."

However, with Kuomintang (KMT) chairman and presidential candidate Eric Chu badly trailing opposition Democratic Progressive Party candidate Tsai Ing-wen at 16.4 per cent to Ms Tsai's 47.1 per cent, pundits have said the meeting is also aimed at influencing the polls.

The KMT's move last month to switch presidential candidates from the deeply pro-unification Ms Hung Hsiu-chu to Mr Chu, which was meant to improve the party's chances in both the presidential and legislative elections on Jan 16, had alienated its deep-blue supporters. Some moderate KMT supporters also deserted the party in disappointment at the hasty way in which the party bundled off Ms Hung with little due process beyond a vote taken at an emergency party congress, analysts have said.

Ms Hung was ditched because her pro-unification platform of signing a peace treaty with China and reaching a consensus on "one China" had been unpopular with Taiwanese voters, many of whom are unhappy with Mr Ma's China-friendly policy which they believe has benefited big business but not ordinary Taiwanese. Her candidacy had also begun to poison the campaigns of KMT legislative candidates.

Since the announcement of the summit, some alienated deep-blue supporters of the KMT have begun to return to the fold, said Mr Sun Yang-ming, senior adviser to think- tank Prospect Foundation, citing internal surveys of the party.

He explained that these ideologically driven supporters were encouraged by Mr Ma's move to meet Mr Xi, which shows the party's commitment to better cross-strait ties.

Indeed, the summit has found support among the majority of Taiwanese, with the Mainland Affairs Council's own poll showing 80 per cent of Taiwanese supported the summit. Broadcaster TVBS' poll found 50 per cent approved of it while 35 per cent opposed it.

This is putting pressure on Ms Tsai, who heads the pro-independence DPP, to clarify her cross-strait platform, said cross-strait expert George Tsai of the Chinese Culture University.

She has refused to state her stand on the 1992 consensus - that there is one China with the two rivals having different interpretations of what this means - a condition Beijing has laid down for cross-strait exchanges. She would say only that she is committed to peaceful and stable development of cross-strait ties. In the 2012 presidential election, her opposition to closer ties with China cost her votes.

Professor Tsai added that the Ma-Xi summit, which is training the spotlight on the cross-strait issue so close to the elections, is beneficial to the election campaign of the KMT, which is seen by Taiwanese as being more experienced in dealing with mainland China.

Even if it does not help the KMT win - given the wide gap between the two parties in the presidential and legislative polls - it would at least mean the party will lose less badly, so it is strong in opposition.

"It will certainly boost the morale of the party and its election prospects," Prof Tsai said.

The DPP strongly opposes the summit, with Ms Tsai quoted by media as saying: "The people will not allow Ma to limit Taiwan's future purely for his own political credit."

KMT hoping for boost with Xi-Ma meeting
It is 'shaking things up' as its candidate for Taiwan's presidential election is trailing
By Kor Kian Beng, China Bureau ChiefThe Straits Times, 5 Nov 2015

The top goal of the historic meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou is to improve the chances of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) at the Taiwanese presidential election next January, say analysts.

Taipei-based analyst J. Michael Cole believes the KMT sees the need to "shake things up a bit" as it enters the last leg of the election campaign with a substantial handicap against the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

"So there is a willingness on the KMT's part to take a risk - and this is a risk - as it breaks a promise by Ma in 2011 that he would not meet a Chinese president while in office unless there was a necessity and public support for such a meeting to occur," said Mr Cole, a senior non-resident fellow with the Nottingham University's China Policy Institute.

The Xi-Ma meeting is the first between presidents of both sides since the Chinese civil war ended in 1949. It is viewed by some as a step higher than the 2005 meeting between Mr Hu Jintao and Mr Lien Chan in their positions as chiefs of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the KMT respectively.

The KMT's last-minute switch of presidential candidate on Oct 17 from Ms Hung Hsiu-chu to party chairman Eric Chu has not improved its chances at the January polls, with Mr Chu's ratings trailing those of DPP leader and candidate Tsai Ing-wen in opinion surveys.

To boost KMT's chances, cross-strait expert Chu Jingtao of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences believes Mr Xi may promise more room for Taiwan in the global arena to counter the long-running grumbles among Taiwanese over the island's limited involvement in multilateral initiatives.

Asked if the meeting may have come too late, Dr Chu said: "It's hard to predict the election outcome. The Taiwanese people, and also the Americans, know that an unstable cross-strait situation is not good for anyone."

But some observers believe the CCP is already preparing for the event of a DPP win by trying to protect the progress in cross-strait cooperation since the Beijing-friendly KMT took power in 2008.

A DPP rule is seen as a threat to the cross-strait situation, given the perception that Ms Tsai, as a minister in the DPP government, was involved in crafting a policy towards formal independence.

Cross-strait expert Wu Nengyuan from the Fujian Academy of Social Sciences said Mr Xi wants to send a message to all political parties in Taiwan that the key to maintaining cross-strait peaceful development is the 1992 consensus of "one China, different interpretations" which opposes Taiwan independence. "Without this political cornerstone, cross-strait relations could go down the wrong path," he said.

Observers also believe Mr Ma is trying to salvage his legacy by agreeing to the meeting, though one obstacle reportedly was his request to be recognised as Taiwan President.

"Perhaps he wants to show he has promoted peace so that he can try to get a Nobel Peace Prize," said political analyst Shih Cheng-feng from the National Dong Hwa University in Taiwan.

But the Xi-Ma meeting is a political gamble that can undo progress in cross-strait relations, say observers, saying it depends on what both leaders say and do at their meeting.

"If the meeting is seen as an attempt by Beijing to directly influence Taiwan's democratic processes, this could backfire and end up hurting not only the CCP but the KMT as well," said Mr Cole.

Mr Gerrit van der Wees, a senior adviser to the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, a Washington-based advocacy group of Taiwanese Americans who support independence for Taiwan, said the group believes a meeting between the leaders should only be held after Taiwan has reached a broad consensus on future cross-strait relations.

"We have a hunch that in Taiwan itself, this (meeting) will backfire pretty seriously, and people will feel he is yet again going behind their backs instead of having a transparent and open debate on the issues," he told The Straits Times.

But Chinese observers believe the meeting would result in a net positive impact on cross-strait ties.

Dr Chu said the Xi-Ma meeting would encourage more high-level exchanges between the two sides. Leaders of both sides could meet in China or Taiwan and there could also be meetings at lower levels such as between premiers, vice-premiers or parliamentary chiefs.

"There may not be any agreements or joint statement, but this meeting will be a historic breakthrough... The longer the top leaders don't meet, the longer the problems will snowball," he said.

Chinese are upbeat but reactions mixed in Taiwan
By Teo Cheng Wee, China Correspondent In BeijingThe Straits Times, 5 Nov 2015

China's media was upbeat yesterday about news of the upcoming meeting in Singapore between the Chinese and Taiwan presidents, while the Taiwanese press and public received it with either optimism or scorn.

Commentators in China hailed Saturday's meeting between China's Xi Jinping and Taiwan's Ma Ying-jeou as momentous and historical, saying it signalled a possible breakthrough in ties.

An editorial in the Communist Party-linked Global Times said the summit will exert a positive influence on the island's policy towards the mainland and lauded Mr Ma for agreeing to the meeting.

"Applause will break out all over the globe," it said. "It will be a victory of peace, a victory of rationality."

The article also hit out at the objections of pro-independence factions in Taiwan to the meeting, saying that their "extremism" will not last and is certain to be stigmatised.

Other Chinese commentators took the opportunity to broach the topic of reunification with Taiwan. Beijing considers the island a breakaway Chinese province.

One news website opinion article said the Xi-Ma meeting is being held "to seek the greater good for the Chinese people", while another noted that "the sea which separates the two shores is an everlasting scar".

The Chinese public also applauded the occasion. However, while most Chinese netizens agreed that the meeting would benefit both sides, they lamented the fact that its timing was less than ideal, coming when Mr Ma's influence and popularity is waning in Taiwan.

While calling it a good thing, one person wrote on microblog site Weibo that "it comes too late and won't help anything".

Mr Ma and his Kuomintang are facing a hostile electorate upset about its overtures towards Beijing.

Depending on political leanings, the Taiwanese media and public either derided the summit, or saw it as an opportunity to foster better ties. The pro-Kuomintang United Daily News said the Xi-Ma meeting is set to write a new page in history and shows that the two sides cannot be in a constant stand-off.

"To seek independence is a dead end, and Taiwan must manoeuvre within parameters that Beijing can accommodate," it said.

Business groups in Taiwan were similarly quoted expressing hope that the meeting will pave the way for warmer ties.

Critics of China, however, took to social media to lambast the occasion, with some reportedly dubbing any greeting between the leaders as "a handshake of death".

The meeting is a sign of Beijing "quickening its steps" of reunification, after surveys have shown that most Taiwanese want to remain independent, yet predict the island will be reunified with China one day, said a commentary in the pro-independence Liberty Times.

"Does the Republic of China belong to Ma Ying-jeou and Kuomintang?" it asked, referring to Taiwan's official name. "The truth is, Ma Ying-jeou is preparing to destroy the Republic of China."

Ma to raise issue of international space for island
By Goh Sui Noi, Senior Writer, The Straits Times, 7 Nov 2015

One issue close to Taiwanese hearts that President Ma Ying-jeou will raise with Chinese President Xi Jinping is international space for Taiwan.

At his press conference on Thursday on his summit with the Chinese leader, Mr Ma said he would discuss with Mr Xi the problems that Taiwan faces in trying to participate in international organisations.

Since Taiwan left the United Nations in 1971 and China was admitted to the world body, the island has faced increasing isolation as Beijing sought to limit its international space. It now has only 23 diplomatic allies, mostly small and impoverished countries in Latin America, Africa and the Pacific that welcome the aid which Taiwan provides.

Taipei was only able to expand somewhat its international space after the China-friendly Mr Ma came to power in 2008 and sought closer ties with Beijing.

In 2009, Taiwan was given observer status at the annual World Health Assembly, the first time since 1971 that the island was able to participate in a UN-affiliated organisation.

After Taiwan signed the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement with China in 2010, it was able to sign trade pacts with Singapore and New Zealand.

Still, this means Taiwan has only eight free trade agreements to its name, the rest being with diplomatic allies Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama.

It fears marginalisation, particularly after the 12-member Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was inked last month, and seeks not just TPP membership but also to join the 16-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

One sensitive subject that the two leaders will not discuss today is the disputed South China Sea, where Taiwan lays claim to some territories, together with China and four Asean states. Indeed, the nine-dash-line map that Beijing uses to make its claims was based on one drawn up in the 1940s by the Kuomintang (KMT) government before it was forced out of China in 1949 after losing the civil war to the Chinese Communist Party.

Mr Ma , from the KMT, had earlier sought to play a role in the contested waters, putting forth in May his South China Sea Peace Initiative.

No detail too small for Taiwan's fiercely competitive media
By Lee Xin En, The Straits Times, 7 Nov 2015

Even before the historic Xi-Ma meeting starts at 3pm today, readers are already finding out what gifts Taiwanese President Ma Ying- jeou is bringing for Chinese President Xi Jinping, why his wife is not with him, and that the two sides are splitting the dinner bill.

Since news of the talks broke late on Tuesday night, Taiwan's competitive media outlets have gone into overdrive, churning out a barrage of articles from the political implications of the Xi-Ma meeting right down to the minutest details, such as seating and dining arrangements at Shangri-La Hotel.

They also asked pointed questions - including why Mr Ma's wife, Ms Chow Mei-ching, will not be in Singapore with him.

"It is not that I don't want to take her. She does not want to come with me," was Mr Ma's answer.

The Taiwanese leader's brief stop in Singapore has been widely reported: He arrives in Singapore at about 1pm, meets Mr Xi at 3pm, holds a press conference at 5pm, has dinner with Mr Xi at 6pm and leaves Singapore at 8pm.

Mr Ma will be presenting Mr Xi with a handmade porcelain figurine of the Taiwanese blue magpie, Taiwan's China Times reported.

The two leaders and their delegations will have dinner at a restaurant in Shangri-La, rumoured to be Shang Palace. Each side will have seven people, and Mr Ma's favourite Matsu Laojiu liquor will be presented to dinner guests, according to Taiwanese media.

The two sides will split the bill for their dinner in Singapore, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) deputy minister Wu Mei-hung said on Wednesday. "It's not about who will be whose guest at the dinner, but about having dinner together," Ms Wu was quoted as saying.

She said the two sides will also split the cost of renting the venue at Shangri-La for their leaders' meeting.

In 1993, Singapore was also the venue for a landmark meeting between the two sides, which were represented by the heads of their semi-official bodies - Mr Wang Daohan of China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and Mr Koo Chen-fu of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation. More than 200 journalists from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and other Asian economies covered the talks at the time.

This time, dozens of foreign journalists have flown into Singapore to cover the meeting. Media outlets big and small, mostly from Taiwan and China, have dispatched teams of reporters and cameramen here.

There were probably more journalists than guests at the lobby of Shangri-La Hotel yesterday afternoon. There was a scramble when Mr Andrew Hsia, who heads MAC, Taiwan's top China policymaking body, arrived at about 3.30pm.

Mr Hsia was asked why Mr Xi and Mr Ma will be holding separate press conferences after their meeting, in contrast to the joint press conference that Mr Xi and US President Barack Obama held when the Chinese President visited the United States in September.

"Every occasion calls for different practices," Mr Hsia replied in Mandarin.

Journalists from Taiwanese media outlets make up a significant contingent. Taiwan has at least six 24-hour all-news cable channels catering to a population of 23 million. In comparison, there are only three major 24-hour news networks in the US, with its population of 320 million.

A reporter from one of Taiwan's biggest networks, Chinese Television System (CTS), who did not want to be named, said most Taiwanese media organisations sent three teams, with each usually comprising a reporter, a cameraman and technicians.

Hong Kong's Phoenix Television sent an additional 10 staff members from its offices in Taiwan and Hong Kong to cover the event, said one of its reporters.

The mainland Chinese media is also here in full force. A reporter from China's CCTV said the state broadcaster sent a crew of 22, including several heads of departments - underscoring the significance of today's meeting.

The Straits Times understands that China's state news agency Xinhua, which has five reporters based in Singapore, sent 10 more to cover the event.

Additional reporting by Kua Yu-lin

Taiwanese opposition leader not ruling out summit with Xi
Response comes as surveys show majority of Taiwanese approve of Ma Ying-jeou's meeting with Chinese leader
By Goh Sui Noi, Senior Writer, The Straits Times, 7 Nov 2015

Taiwanese opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen, the front runner in the island's January presidential poll, has said she will not rule out meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping if elected, provided some conditions are met.

Her response came as opinion surveys showed the majority of Taiwanese approving of the summit in Singapore today between Mr Xi and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, who is from the China-friendly ruling Kuomintang.

Ms Tsai, who heads the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), also responded to Mr Ma's remarks on Thursday at a press conference on the summit that he was building a bridge for future exchanges between leaders of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

"Exchanges between leaders of the two sides are highly sensitive... Without a complete structure, such a bridge will not be a very stable one," she was quoted by Taiwanese media as saying on Thursday.

Such a structure would consist of "democratic procedure, transparency in the flow of information and monitoring by the legislature".

The three principles on which a meeting can take place would be: parity of the leaders, transparency and no political pre-conditions.

She also slammed as "opaque" the policymaking process of Mr Ma's administration, saying it led to "misgiving and mistrust" among Taiwanese towards the government.

Ms Tsai had earlier criticised the haste with which the summit was announced - just four days before it was due to take place - saying it damaged Taiwan's democracy.

DPP caucus leader Ker Chien-ming had said late on Tuesday, when the announcement was made, that such a summit was "not acceptable" to the Taiwanese, given that the "lame-duck" Mr Ma has just six months of his term to go and has no mandate to discuss issues.

However, as the majority of Taiwanese reacted positively to the Xi-Ma meeting, the opposition party appears to have toned down its rhetoric.

DPP secretary-general Joseph Wu said on Thursday in a radio interview that the party has no objection to the normalisation of meetings between leaders of the two sides, but stressed that the process must be transparent.

He added that the party would not initiate any protest, or take to the streets, or organise a protest at the venue of the meeting in Singapore.

Separately, the DPP publicised its own carefully worded survey yesterday, which showed that 66.8 per cent of Taiwanese polled agreed that Mr Ma should not make any major cross-strait policy announcement at the summit and that 65.9 per cent did not trust Mr Ma's ability to deal with cross-strait ties.

The DPP survey also showed that 74 per cent thought that on such an important issue as a summit between leaders of the two sides, Mr Ma should have first communicated with the legislature and opposition parties and obtained consensus within Taiwan.

Unlike the DPP, other pro-independence parties have been less coy, with a legislator from the Taiwan Solidarity Union accusing Mr Ma of "selling out Taiwan".

Pro-independence activists have staged protests in front of the Legislative Yuan since the summit came to light, and four young men will travel to Singapore today to protest against the summit.

Taiwan's Central News Agency said the four, who are self-funded, will hand over a document to the Taipei Representative Office in Singapore, stating that Mr Ma no longer has the legitimacy to represent Taiwanese.

"Whatever promise, consensus or discussion that President Ma makes at the summit will have no restriction on the people of Taiwan or whichever authorities that replace the current one," they were quoted by the news agency as saying.

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