BREAKING: Presidents Ma, Xi, to Meet in Singapore Nov. 7Less than two months before presidential and legislative elections in which the KMT is expected to fare poorly, a bombshell that is sure to shake things up…
The Presidential Office in Taipei confirmed late on the evening of Nov. 3 that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and President Xi Jinping (習近平) are to meet each other in Singapore on Nov. 7. Both leaders have reportedly been invited by Singaporean authorities. President Xi will head for Singapore after visiting Vietnam.
According to the Presidential Office, which confirmed an initial report in the Chinese-language Liberty Times, presidents Ma and Xi will not sign agreements and will not issue a joint statement. SET-TV reports that Ma and Xi will hold separate press conferences after the meeting. The purpose of the meeting and the subjects to be discussed have yet to be confirmed. The Presidential Office added that the meeting is meant to solidify cross-strait peace and maintain the status quo. The meeting is the common goal of both leaders, it said.
The Mainland Affairs Council will hold a press conference on Nov. 4 to further explain the details of the meeting. President Ma will also hold a press conference on Nov. 5.
This will be the first meeting between the two heads of state, although given Beijing’s position on Taiwan it is unlikely that he will do so as president. Ma, whose second and last term will end on May 20, 2016, had long expressed the hope of meeting with President Xi. However, while running for re-election in 2012, President Ma had vowed that he would never meet with a Chinese president while in office. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) met Xi in Beijing on May 4.
Confirmation of the meeting has already sparked outrage among Taiwanese Netizens. The New Power Party has announced it will gather at 9am outside the Legislative Yuan, where a Ma official is to brief legislators, to protest. The small party has called on citizens to join the protest (expecting trouble, police began deploying fences and barbed wire around the Presidential Office on the afternoon of Nov. 3).
The meeting will occur less than two months prior to the Jan. 16 presidential and legislative elections in Taiwan, in which the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is expected to win. Observers regard the move as a possible attempt to throw a curveball to DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who is leading by a wide margin in the polls.
J. Michael Cole is editor in chief of Thinking Taiwan, a senior non-resident fellow at the China Policy Institute, University of Nottingham, and an Associate researcher at the French Center for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC) in Taipei.