China-Taiwan: leaders to meet in Singapore

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By Euronews  with Reuters
China-Taiwan: leaders to meet in Singapore

There will be an historic meeting between the leaders of China and Taiwan this weekend.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet his Ma Ying-jeou, his Taiwanese counterpart, in Singapore on Saturday.

It is the first time leaders of the two countries have met.

Why is the Ma-Xi meeting significant?

China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since 1949.

The Nationalist government fled to the island after it was defeated by the Communists.

Beijing considers Taiwan as part of its territory and says it will counter any attempts to achieve full independence with military force.

However, relations have improved since 2008, when President Ma took office. His administration is seen as pro-Beijing.

A spokesman for the Taiwanese government says the aim is to maintain the status quo or even improve relations between the two.

However, commentators say the historic Ma-Xi meeting is hugely politically sensitive.

The context

  • There are elections in China in three months
  • Polls suggest the pro-independence, main opposition candidate Tsai Ing-wen is in the lead
  • She was a policy minister for the previous government which angered Beijing by pushing for formal independence
  • Chinese officials have so far refused to meet her

Protests in Taiwan

News of the unexpected meeting has prompted protests on the streets of Taiwan.

There is rising anti-China sentiment in Taiwan, particularly among the young.