First step to China-Taiwan 'normalisation'

  • 05/11/2015
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) (Reuters)
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) (Reuters)

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou says a historic weekend summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping will be the "first step to normalisation" of relations between leaders of the two former rivals.

The meeting in Singapore on Saturday is the first time leaders from the two sides will have met since Taiwan split from the mainland in 1949, which left Taiwan to forge its own identity as a democracy.

"Going forward we think both sides of the Strait should work towards lowering hostility... This is the first step towards normalisation of meetings between the leaders," Ma said in an address to the nation on Thursday (local time).

"We think meetings between leaders from across the Strait should gradually normalise as interactions on both sides have already become close enough for such a need."

He defended the summit after a backlash from opponents who accuse him of selling out Taiwan and in the face of public concerns over a rapprochement he has led after decades of hostility.

Ma also denied the meeting was a ploy to boost the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang's chances in presidential elections next year as their support dwindles, partly due to voter scepticism about closer China ties.