President Xi Jinping will meet his Taiwanese counterpart Ma Ying-jeou in Singapore on Saturday in the first such meeting between the leaders of the two countries since 1949 when the civil war ended with Taiwan claiming independence.
Official statements from both sides confirmed the historic weekend summit with Beijing saying that the meeting would take place under a “pragmatic arrangement” aligned with the “One-China principle”.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) defeated the Nationalist or Kuomintang army in the civil war that ended in 1949. Subsequently, the nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek retreated to the island of Taiwan and proclaimed independence.
Since then, China has claimed Taiwan to be part of its territory though the island nation is independent country with a democratic set up.
Most countries in the world including India follows the “One-China policy” and do not officially recognise Taiwan as an independent country.
Instead of an embassy, the India-Taipai Association in the capital Taipei facilitates ties between the two countries; the Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre in New Delhi does the same job.
Ma will fly to Singapore to meet Xi while the Chinese President is heading there to commemorate 25 years of bilateral relations between China and Singapore.
“They (the two leaders) will exchange views on promoting the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations,” Zhang Zhijun, head of the Taiwan Work Office of the CPC Central Committee and Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said.
Zhang said the meeting will take place despite “cross-Strait political differences” not being resolved.
“Relevant departments of the two sides have decided through consultation that the meeting will be made in the name of leaders of the mainland and Taiwan,” official news agency Xinhua quoted Zhang as saying, adding “…it is a pragmatic arrangement in accordance with the one-China principle while cross-Strait political difference has not been resolved”.
Under Ma, the head of the pro-China Kuomintang, relations between the two countries have improved considerably. The opposition Democratic Progressive Party favours independence from the Mainland.
China is a dividing factor among the Taiwanese and with Presidential election slated for January, the meeting and its aftermath will be closely tracked.
The Singapore foreign office said in a statement that it was requested to facilitate a meeting between the Chinese and Taiwanese leaders.
“Singapore was requested by both sides to help facilitate the meeting between the top Leaders from the two sides of the Taiwan Strait on 7 November in Singapore. This is a milestone in the history of cross-strait relations since 1949.
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,” it said in a statement.