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Xi-Ma meeting sets course for peaceful development

Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou on November 7 in Singapore. Photo: Zhang Han/

In future, November 7, 2015 will be written into history textbooks as a day when the leaders across the Taiwan Strait met for the first time after 66 years of stalled relations. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou shook hands in front of hundreds of reporters at Singapore’s Shangri-La Hotel and reached a collective consensus on the peaceful development of the cross-Strait relations.

First, the meeting lifted the Chinese out of the civil war shadow. The mainland and Taiwan have been ruled separately since 1949 when Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang, or Nationalist Party, lost the civil war to Mao Zedong-led Communists and fled to Taiwan. Different development paths pulled the two sides apart, which has caused heartfelt pain and irretrievable regret to people across the Strait as Xi said.

The 1992 Consensus that endorses the one-China principle has served as a cornerstone for cross-Strait relations since “Wang-Koo” talks, which opened cross-Strait exchanges in economy, trade, culture and education. The Xi-Ma meeting bore the bury-the-hatchet symbolism and shrugged off the shadow of the civil war, paving the way for the two sides to join hands in peaceful development.

Second, the Xi-Ma meeting also laid the solid foundation for the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait. In 1949, the mainlanders chanted “We will liberate Taiwan” slogan while Taiwan shouted “counterattack the mainland.” In 1996, Beijing conducted missile exercises offshore aimed at warning the Taiwanese against voting for Lee Teng-hui, who angered China with moves to assert Taiwan's independence. It is a tragedy for both sides to commit military resources to the Taiwan Strait. The Strait will be transformed from a sea of danger to sea of peace. Xi said that Chinese from both sides have the capabilities and wisdom to solve their own problems.

Xi hoped the two sides could continue the path of peaceful development. Ma said that “on our hands are the goal of maintaining peace and prosperity.” What could be more important than pursuing peace for politicians?

Third, the wolf has a winning game when shepherds quarrel. The US gained significant strategic interest through its obscure stance on Taiwan. Now the “Asia Pivot” policy is aimed at containing China by allying with South Korea, Japan and Southeastern countries. The US warship last month entered the territorial waters of China-claimed islands in the South China Sea. Washington has been interfering with the Taiwan issue on the pretext of “not changing the status quo.” The Xi-Ma meeting opened a hole in the US-led contain-China alliance. Xi’s visit to the UK, Singapore and Vietnam will create a new model of relations in the Asian-Pacific countries for China’s development.

Fourth, the Xi-Ma meeting served as a restraint for Tsai Ing-wen, leader of Taiwan’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party and candidate for January’s election. Tsai said before the historic meeting that “she was open to meet Xi if she is elected the next Taiwan leader on condition that the event can be conducted on an equal footing, with openness and transparency, and without political preconditions.” The Xi-Ma meeting is a perfect example of such event. The DPP has to take the responsibility of pursuing cross-Strait peaceful development otherwise they will reverse the course of history.

Fifth, the people of the two sides will benefit from thawed cross-Strait relations. The Xi-Ma meeting will help boost cross-Strait exchanges in trade and culture, creating a better business climate.

Last, Xi displayed his personal charisma in the milestone meeting with his insight on cross-Strait issue at a strategic high level and pragmatic approach. Ma also impressed the world with his sense of responsibility to history and nationality as well as his unwavering stance on the 1992 Consensus. At the end of the summit, Ma quoted Zhang Zai, the Northern Song Dynasty thinker, in his hope of setting course for the peaceful development of the world.

(The article is translated by Wu Jie.)

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