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China and Taiwan Meet After 66 Years

November 8, 2015
Plain English Version
China's President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Taiwan's President Ma Ying?-jeou during a summit in Singapore. REUTERS/Edgar Su - RTS5W3H

China’s President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou during a summit in Singapore. REUTERS/Edgar Su – RTS5W3H

It was a historic meeting in Singapore. President Xi Jinping of China and President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan met and shook hands. What did it mean?

Diplomacy is about pushing forward the interests of your nation. Both leaders used the meeting for that purpose. The end of hostilities does not seem to be the reason for the meeting.

The Communist troops of Mao Zedong defeated General Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Army in China in 1949. General Chiang and his Kuomintang Party (KMT) fled to Taiwan.

The United States and the United Nations declared that Taiwan was the true government of China.

Relations between the two governments have always been tense. In 1992, the U.N. said China, not Taiwan, was the true government. Since then, only 22 countries have recognized Taiwan as a real nation.

Both countries are economic powerhouses.

Taiwan is a democracy. It has a free press and political parties. China is authoritarian. There is no free press and no free elections.

What did the leaders talk about after 66 years? Not much. They said they would try to work together. They split the bill for the big luncheon. The leader of Taiwan held a press conference that was not aired in China. The leader of China answered a few questions and left.

Taiwan is holding elections next February. Mr. Ma cannot run again. His Kuomintang Party is facing the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The DPP expects to win the presidency and the parliament.

Both Xi and Ma want to go down in history as starting a new phase in the relations of the two countries.

China used the meeting to show the United States that its power is growing in the Pan-Asia Region. Taiwan wanted to show that it is a legitimate country.

As in Israel and Palestine and India and Pakistan, decades of hostility between China and Taiwan continue. Still, the meeting was one small step forward.

Source: The Washington Post November 7, 2015

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