Taiwan’s President on Thursday defended a historic summit with China as the first step to normalising relations between the leaders, as opponents wary over a rapprochement after decades of hostility a
Taiwan’s President on Thursday defended a historic summit with China as the first step to normalising relations between the leaders, as opponents wary over a rapprochement after decades of hostility accused him of selling out the island.
Ma Ying-jeou will meet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Singapore on Saturday, in a dramatic recognition of a seven-year period of warming relations which has raised fears self-ruled Taiwan’s security may be at stake.
Mr Ma said the meeting was to ensure the future of cross-strait relations and would also be a chance for Taiwan to come in from the cold internationally, where few countries recognise it as a state.
It will be the first time leaders from the two sides, separated by the narrow Taiwan Strait, will have met since their split at the end of a civil war on the mainland in 1949, which left Taiwan to forge its own identity as a democracy.
In an address to the nation, Mr Ma hailed the meeting as being “for the welfare of the next generation”.
“Both sides of the Strait should work towards lowering hostility... This is the first step towards normalisation of meetings between the leaders,” he said.
Taiwan lost its United Nations seat to China in 1971 and only 22 states formally recognise the island, which has led to marginalisation on the global stage, a key point of resentment for Taiwanese.
“Taiwan has for quite some time run into many difficulties participating in international events. We receive this feedback from the public frequently, such as from NGOs,” said Mr Ma. “Therefore we will raise this issue... In order to come to some agreement for greater international space for Taiwan.”