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Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou will meet Chinese president Xi Jinping in Singapore on Saturday - the first ever meeting between leaders of the two sides.
Both sides said the talks would focus on relations across the Taiwan Straits.
Zhang Zhijun, the Chinese official responsible for Taiwanese affairs, said the two men would “exchange views on promoting the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations”.
He said the meeting represented “a breakthrough in direct exchange and communication between the two leaders, after hardships and twists since 1949”.
Xinhua said Xi and Ma would dine together in Singapore after holding a meeting during the day. The men would address each other as “mister”.
“The realisation of the meeting between Xi and Ma results from concerted efforts of both sides and all compatriots, benefiting from accumulated fruits achieved in the peaceful development of the cross-Strait relations,” Zhang told state media.
While news agencies like the guradian and BBC news and many experts hold the similar view that the announcement of the milestone meeting comes as Taiwan gears up for a presidential election on 16 January.
Anti-China sentiment is on the rise in Taiwan, and Tsai’s DPP reacted angrily after news of the upcoming meeting emerged on Wednesday.
“I believe people across the country, like me, felt very surprised,” Tsai said on Wednesday. “A meeting of the leaders of the two sides across the strait is a great event, involving the dignity and national interests of Taiwan. But to let the people know in such a hasty and chaotic manner is damaging to Taiwan’s democracy.”
Shi Yinhong, an international relations professor from Beijing’s Renmin University said the meeting was a “historical event” but one that was likely to fail.
“As a political event, it would have been better if the summit had happened two years ago,” he said. “Ma will soon leave office and the KMT is not likely to win the next election. The DPP, which shares no mutual political trust with the mainland, is likely to win the election. Therefore, the summit may not have a substantial political impact.”
(edited and organized mainly from the guardian Tom Phillips ' report)