China and Taiwan Leaders Meet for First Time Since 1949–Special Topic

download (1)An Abruptly Announcement, an 80 Second Handshake

The New York Times: Leaders of China and Taiwan Talk of Peace Across the Strait
  • Mr. Xi and Mr. Ma began their brief talks with a handshake that went on for more than a minute, with both men smiling broadly and turning side to side so the hundreds of reporters in the meeting room at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore could document the moment. The meeting is a high point in the two leaders’ efforts to bridge the divisions of civil war and decades of animosity.
The New York Times: China, Taiwan and a Meeting After 66 Years
  • President Xi Jinping of China and Taiwan’s president, Ma Ying-jeou, will meet on Saturday in Singapore, the first such meeting since before the Chinese Communist revolution of 1949 and the retreat of the Chinese Nationalists across the Taiwan Strait.The office in charge of Taiwan relations in Beijing said in a brief statement that the two leaders would exchange views on promoting development during a long scheduled two-day visit of Mr. Xi to Singapore, a country that has good relations with both sides.
Brookings: Two Chinese leaders walk into a room: The Singapore meeting between Ma Ying-jeou and Xi Jinping
  • Holding a Ma-Xi meeting in a third country like Singapore plays better for Ma within Taiwan than doing so on PRC territory (e.g. Hong Kong). Singapore also happens to be where senior figures of Taiwan and the Chinese mainland held a path-breaking meeting in 1993, a meeting that Ma Ying-jeou helped facilitate when he was deputy chairman of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council.
South China Morning Post: US not involved in setting up historic meeting between mainland China’s and Taiwan’s top leaders, says Taiwanese official
  • Andrew Hsia Li-yan, chairman of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, said he had suggested to Zhang Zhijun, head of mainland China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, during their talks in Guangzhou in mid-October, that the historic talks be held on the sidelines of a regional economic summit in Manila this month.
Reuters: Taiwan opposition says only democracy can decide future
  • A day after Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou held historic talks in Singapore, Tsai Ing-wen, leader of Taiwan’s independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said the leaders’ meeting had done nothing to make Taiwan’s people feel safer. “Only the majority public opinion on Jan. 16 can decide Taiwan’s future and cross-strait relations,” Tsai wrote, referring to ties with the mainland.

Commentary Round Up

Frozen Garlic: Quick reaction to the Ma-Xi meeting
  • The announcement was done very stealthily. As far as Mrs. Garlic can determine, the Liberty Times was the first one to post the story online (at about 10:34pm, or an hour before Central News Agency). In other words, the presidential office didn’t intend to break the story just yet. I think this means they wanted to wait as long as possible in order to preclude any mobilization of public opposition that might force them to cancel the trip.
National Interest: The Big China-Taiwan Meeting: Game Changer, Lost Cause or Election Strategy?
  • Ma is also symptomatic of a major problem in the upper levels of the ruling party, where powerful gerontocrats and their princelings hold sway. Their business interests in China make their preferences vastly different to regular people. This is a 1-percent problem, multiplied by the China factor: being a president and party associated with the 1 percent and unification is not the way to win over Taiwanese voters.
The New York Times: Meeting With Taiwan Reflects Limits of China’s Checkbook
  • The encounter, scheduled to take place on neutral ground in Singapore on Saturday, will be trumpeted by both sides as a milestone in cross-strait relations. But it also seems to be an implicit acknowledgment by Mr. Xi that the Chinese effort to woo Taiwan with economic benefits alone has been unsuccessful — and that Beijing’s dream of unification with the island is as distant as ever, despite a long courtship.
    “Xi Jinping is at a loss,” said Parris Chang, president of the Taiwan Institute for Political, Economic and Strategic Studies, a think tank in Taipei. “He doesn’t know what to do.”
The Australian: China-Taiwan summit could have achieved more early in Ma era
  • The Chinese Communist Party publication Global Times says the event is “a symbol of goodwill and sincerity from both sides to put aside differences and seek common ground” .Through this prism, it may be viewed especially as offering goodwill to Ma, under whom much of the communications gulf between China and Taiwan has been removed or reduced, allowing the freer flow of visitors, freight, mail and investment. It is nearing the last chance for Xi to make such a gesture, as Ma ends his term and his KMT party appears set for a long period of opposition.
The New York Times: Taiwan’s President Caves In to China
  • In the run-up to the 2012 elections that ushered him into his second and last term as president, Mr. Ma said there was “no way” he would meet with the leadership of China. The Taiwanese are rightfully anxious about the economic and military rise of China and have given up on finding any common ground for discussion with China on Beijing’s primary — in fact, only — goal: reunification. Why then, just two months ahead of presidential and legislative elections, would Mr. Ma backtrack and agree to dine with the one man who presents the greatest threat to Taiwan’s democratic and open society? Wu’er Kaixi on Ma-Xi meeting. 
Ketagalan Media: The Emperors Speak
  • “Blood is thicker than water,” Xi intoned, and he defined the blood relationship between mainland and Taiwanese Chinese still more vividly: “If our bones were broken we would still be hung together by our tendons.” As usual for PRC rhetoric, he called Taiwanese “brothers from the same womb” (同胞) several times. Ma talked emotionally of Chinese and Taiwanese students “mixing like milk and water” [such as in baby formula] on Taiwanese university campuses. Ma and Xi made it as clear as could be that they are ethnic nationalists.

The Initium: 陶仪芬:习近平为什麽要见马英九?(Tao Yi-feng: Why Does Xi Jinping Want to Meet Ma Ying-jeou?)

  • 习近平对马英九卸任后的地位没有兴趣,对国民党是否胜选也未必在乎,在这个时候安排“马习会”就是要在区域製造一个中国仍是努力缔造和平的“和平制造者”的形象,缓解南中国海争议所给人的霸道形象。更进一步,透过“马习会”框住台湾,也为中国提供了美日新围堵政策的突破。Taiwanese political scientist argues that Xi’s interest in meeting Ma is not about domestic TW politics, but China’s regional soft power offensive–it’s about presenting Xi as a “peacemaker.”

Both leaders will address their counterpart as “mister.”

The Chinese State-Media Reaction: Upbeat about Meeting

Global Times: Whole world applauds Xi-Ma cross-straits meeting
  • It is impossible for the cross-Straits relationship to maintain exactly the “status quo.” It, under influence from various forces, is changing all the time. “Taiwan independence” has been driven by only interior extreme forces. Their current running rampant is a bubble in the course of history. The counter thrusts include the mainland’s increasingly powerful clout and the positive mainstream forces from Taiwan itself. The world is also anticipating closer cross-Straits ties. These forces are shaping the big picture of closer relations between both sides.
CPC News: 习近平马英九将在新加坡会面 开启两岸领导人直接沟通先河
(Xi Jinping and Ma Ying-jeou will meet in Singapore to set the precedent of direct communication between both sides’ leaders)
  • 张志军表示,实现两岸领导人会面是我们的一贯主张。我们的态度始终是积极开放的。过去7年多来,两岸双方在坚持“九二共识”、反对“台独”的共同政治基础上建立并增进互信,开辟了两岸关系和平发展道路,取得丰硕成果。两会协商签署了23项协议,解决了关乎两岸同胞切身利益的一系列问题。两岸经济合作持续深化,实现全面直接双向“三通”,给两岸同胞带来了许多实实在在好处。两岸各领域交流蓬勃发展,密切了两岸同胞感情。两岸协商处理有关涉外事务,减少了内耗。受这些成果鼓舞,两岸许多同胞和海外侨胞呼吁两岸领导人举行会面,共商推动两岸关系更大发展之计。
The New York Times: Chinese State TV Masks Ma Ying-jeou’s Taiwan Flag Pin
  • Because China insists that Taiwan is not a separate nation, and most other countries agree with that or subscribe to a “one China” policy, public displays of the Taiwanese flag can be problematic — not just in China, but also in international venues. When Taiwan takes part in the Olympics, for example, it does so under the name “Chinese Taipei” and its athletes carry a special white flag designed for such occasions, rather than the flag of Taiwan, which has a red-and-blue field with a white sun projecting rays.
The Paper: 马英九谈“习马会”:我搭桥,继任者可以很快上桥、渡河 (Ma Ying-jeou discusses “Ma-Xi meeting”: “I’m making a bridge that my successor can quickly cross”)
  • 此外,民进党2016参选人蔡英文11月5日受访时表示,在选举仅剩的两个多月,进行“习蔡会”的可能性不大;若明年1月16日当选后,在相关条件完成下不排除“习蔡会”。蔡英文说,两岸互动或交流,甚至领导人会面,台湾社会正面看待,不会反对。Article does not preclude a “Cai-Xi meeting.”
China Times: 陸學者:習近平最快明年能訪台 (Mainland scholar: Xi Jinping could visit Taiwan next year at the soonest)
  • 至於蔡英文也拋出「蔡習會」可能性,周志懷則強調,在蔡英文不接受「九二共識」前提之下,兩岸間任何交流都可能動搖,更別說領導人互訪會晤;「蔡習會」只是一廂情願說法,大陸民眾不會答應。
Taiwanese Media  and Society Reaction: Divided and 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Public Liaison Office: President Ma to meet mainland Chinese leader Xi Nov. 7 in Singapore
  • Minister Hsia said the major objective of the meeting will be to consolidate cross-strait peace and maintain the status quo. Taiwan insists that the meeting can only proceed under conditions of equal and dignified status, he stressed, adding that no agreement will be signed and no joint statement issued.
Solidaritytw:Blue and green newspaper spin
  • Taiwan expert analyzes how Taiwanese newspapers reported on the Ma-Xi meeting. Despite having a free-press, Taiwan’s media is notoriously polarized and beholden to party loyalties.
The Liberty Times: 自毀承諾?馬英九:我是說不會前往「大陸」會面 (Breaks promise? Ma Ying-jeou: I said I wouldn’t meet [a Chinese leader] in the mainland)
  • 現場媒體問馬英九:「4年前您曾說未來不會和中國領導人見面、不會談統一的問題、也不會簽署任何條約,但如今『中國領導人見面』這個承諾,讓外界認為您食言,您是否可以和國人解釋一下。」馬英九說:「當時我會這樣說,是因為以往台灣和大陸領導人會面都是在大陸,但這次不一樣,這次是在第三地,因此我認為和大陸領導人碰面,不會有上述的顧慮。」In 2011 Ma unequivocally said he would not meet with a Chinese leader during his term in office. 
photoUDN: 新聞幕後/馬將強調「中華民國存在的事實」(Behind the scenes/ Ma will highlight “the fact that the Republic of China exists”) 
  • 高層在安排「馬習會」與會人員時,三位是本省籍、三位是外省籍、一位是客家籍,象徵「台灣族群融合」,而馬總統是「中華民國主權的象徵」,國安會秘書長高華柱職掌國防外交事務,是主權的執行者,都有象徵意涵。The composition of the 7 person delegation from Taiwan is highly symbolic—three are “waishengren,” three are local Taiwanese, and one is Hakka.
LTN: 內幕》中國要求將「一個中國」列為馬習會共識 (Behind the scenes: China demand that “One China” be classified as the Ma-Xi meeting consensus) 
  • Rumor that Ma would abandon the 1992 consensus (one China, two interpretations) in favor of just “one China” turned out to be false. 
Storm Media: 馬習會見面禮 馬英九贈「台灣藍鵲」手工瓷器 (For gift at Ma-Xi meeting, Ma will present a handcrafted porcelain “Taiwan Blue Magpie”) 
  • 總統府指出,台灣藍鵲是台灣特有種,俗稱「長尾山娘」,僅在台灣低海拔山地分佈,係保育鳥類,已十分稀少。出品的傑作陶藝公司產品多以「台灣映象與中華文化之融和」為創作主題,作品曾獲總統府及外交部採用為致贈國賓禮物。
Democratic People’s Party, Public Statement: Statement on Ma-Xi Meeting by DPP Chair Tsai Ing-wen
  • The people’s voice is something President Ma Ying-jeou needs to face. The people have lost confidence in the government’s ability to facilitate cross-strait relations in recent years, and they will not wish to see yet another black-box decision. I will also point out that President Ma is near the end of his term. The people will never accept that an outgoing president bargains away Taiwan’s future to maximize his personal political legacy, or makes promises he cannot be responsible for. […]If the KMT always utilizes cross-strait issues as a tool of political manipulation during election time, it in fact negatively affects the cross-strait relationship in the long run, and it will not gain the consensus of the Taiwanese people.
Related—CNA: 習會 民進黨5點聲明質疑 (DPP raises 5 points of concern about Ma-Xi meeting)
  • (中央社記者葉素萍台北4日電)民主進步黨發言人鄭運鵬今天發出5點聲明表示,兩岸議題攸關國家利益,應超越政黨考量,不應選舉操作。他質疑總統馬英九臨出發前突襲告知民眾,「馬習會」為何非得如此急迫?
Related—CNA: DPP has no objection to normalization of cross-strait meetings
  • The opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has no objection to normalizing meetings between the leaders of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, but the process must be transparent, DPP Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said Thursday in a radio interview.Wu said that the DPP will not initiate any protest, either taking to the streets or organizing a protest group at the venue of the Nov. 7 meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Singapore.
Apple Daily: 蘋果民調:總統馬英九本周六將與中國領導人習近平在新加坡會面,想請教你的看法?(Apple Daily survey: What’s your opinion on President Ma Ying-jeou’s meeting Saturday with Chinese Leader Xi Jinping in Singapore?)
  • According to poll, 53.1 are against the meeting, while 38.81% approve.
Storm Media: 馬習會》王金平:透過媒體才知道 (Wang Jin-pyng: I found out about the Ma-Xi meeting through the media)
  • 總統馬英九7日將赴新加坡與中國國家主席習近平會晤,為此,行政院長毛治國、總統府秘書長曾永權、陸委會主委夏立言今(4)日上午10時到立法院報告會面事宜。不過,立法院長王金平會前表示,他並不知道行政院要報告的內容,昨天也是透過媒體報導才知道此事。Wang, the leader of the Taiwanese faction of the KMT, has had a strained relationship with the leadership of the party. The meeting will continue to exasperate tensions.
The Liberty Times: 陳菊批:失去民意支持的馬英九 不能代表台灣民意
(Kiku Chen Criticized: Ma-Xi meeting: Ma has lost his public mandate, he cannot represent the Taiwanese public)
  • 總統馬英九將在新加坡與中國國家主席習近平會面,高雄市長陳菊今早指馬習會「很突然」,她痛批馬英九已經完全失去民意支持,不能代表台灣民意,且即將卸任,馬習會徒增台灣社會的不安跟疑慮,她並呼籲北京要重視台灣新的民意。Kaohsiung mayor is one of many major DPP and independent politicians that harshly criticized Ma’s decision to meet Xi. 
ETtoday: 「馬習會大搞秘密外交」 時代力量:視立法監督為無物
(”Ma-Xi meeting is secret foreign policy”- New Power Party: legislative oversight is not enough)
  • 時代力量也指出,這次在新加坡的馬習會,到底是由誰來出面,由誰來接洽?是用何種代價來換取這次的會面機會?根本是在大搞「秘密外交」。時代力量表示,去年民間推動兩岸協議監督條例的立法就是擔心,這種檯面下運作磋商的手段,而這次馬英九仍在心虛,「逃避人民監督,就是你的歷史定位」。The New Power Party, a recently formed party which sprung out of last year’s Sunflower movement, is making the Ma-Xi meeting about lack of democratic oversight in cross-strait relations.