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Taiwan and China to Hold Talks in Singapore

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Taiwan and China will hold a historic summit in Singapore as President Ma Ying-jeou will meet his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, on November 7.

The summit will be the first ever meeting between leaders of the two sides.

Ma Ying-jeou and Xi Jinping said the talks would focus on relations across the Taiwan Straits.

China claims sovereignty over Taiwan and views the island as a breakaway province which will one day be reunited with the mainland.

However, ties have improved since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008.

The Chinese government threatens to use military force against Taiwan if it ever attempts to gain outright independence.China and Taiwan summit Singapore 2015

Taiwanese spokesman Chen Yi-hsin said President Ma Ying-jeou’s aim was “to promote peace cross the Taiwan Strait and maintain status quo”.

Ma Ying-jeou will hold a news conference on November 5 to explain his decision to hold the talks. More details are also expected from Taiwan’s mainland affairs council on November 4.

China’s official Xinhua news agency said the two sides would “exchange views on promoting the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations”.

In a sign of how politically sensitive the meeting is, the two leaders will address each other as Mr. Xi and Mr. Ma, rather than president, one Chinese government official has said.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the US welcomed any steps to reduce tensions and improve relations, but added: “We’ll have to see what actually comes out of the meeting.”

Ties with China have improved under President Ma Ying-jeou, whose Kuomintang (KMT) party is seen as pro-Beijing.

In July 2009, the two leaders exchanged direct messages for the first time in more than 60 years, albeit in their respective party functions, and not as national leaders.

In 2010, China and Taiwan signed a historic trade pact.

However, correspondents say growing fears over China’s influence has led to widespread dissatisfaction in Taiwan.

The KMT party suffered a crushing defeat in local elections in 2015, a result that was widely seen as a rejection of President Ma Ying-jeou’s push for closer ties with China.

Ma Ying-jeou steps down next year having served two terms, and earlier this month the KMT dropped its candidate for January’s presidential election following a series of poor ratings in opinion polls.


Analysts say China is likely to see a meeting between the two leaders as a final chance to press its case for improved ties, in case the KMT loses the election.

China has insisted that countries cannot have official relations with both China and Taiwan, with the result that Taiwan has formal diplomatic ties with only 21 UN member states.

Taiwan also has no seat at the UN, having lost it to China in 1971. Repeated attempts to regain representation at the UN have been blocked.