Saturday, 7 November 2015

First Historic Step

Ma Ying-jeou and Xi Jinping give each other firm handshakes today
The highly anticipated meeting in Singapore between Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou and Chinese President Xi Jinping has come and gone.

What came out of it? The media scrutinized every single aspect of the event, from the 80-second handshake between the two leaders and that at the dinner table, their name cards were written in simplified Chinese for Xi, traditional for Ma.

How diplomatic.

The actual meeting lasted about an hour, though they had dinner for about another hour after two separate press conferences.

It was also noted that during the photo call just before the meeting, Ma's speech was censored by the mainland's CCTV. Was it when he said, "Both sides should respect each other's values and way of life"?

The two leaders talked in a closed door session, touching on issues such as Xi's "One Belt, One Road" campaign, threats to cross-straits relations (for China it's Taiwan's independence streak, and for Taiwan it's China's missiles aimed at the island), and the possibility of setting up a cross-strait hotline to clear up misunderstandings economic integration.

How much can you discuss in an hour anyway?

It was a good start, though we're guessing not too much was accomplished because both sides still have their fundamental differences.

Still, makes great fodder for political pundits who are curious to see how this meeting unfolded.

It's doubtful this event will help Ma politically, because for the most part, people in Taiwan don't want to be closer to the mainland. Taiwanese people want to retain their independence, their ability to vote, and their way of life.

They are already disturbed by how mainlanders behave when visiting the island state and the thought of further economic integration worries them.

For Xi, this was an excellent political opportunity to reach out to the "renegade province" and quietly reel it closer to the mainland.

At least that's the plan...

No comments:

Post a Comment