Leaders agree a hotline can help both sides handle emergencies

Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou during a summit in Singapore Nov 7, 2015.
Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou during a summit in Singapore Nov 7, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

•Chinese President Xi Jinping has said he understands Taiwan's desire for a bigger international presence and agrees with Mr Ma Ying- jeou that a hotline would help the two sides handle emergencies, according to a Chinese official.
 

"Mr Xi thinks that the setting up of a hotline would help both parties communicate in a timely manner and prevent misjudgment," Taiwan Affairs Office director Zhang Zhijun quoted Mr Xi as saying.

Mr Zhang was speaking at a press conference after a summit between the two leaders yesterday.

Taiwan would also be welcome to take part in the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), said Mr Zhang as he conveyed the words of Mr Xi.

Taiwan's 11th-hour application to join the AIIB stumbled in April over the name under which it would enter the bank.

WE'RE CONNECTED

We are brothers connected by flesh even if our bones are broken, we are a family whose blood is thicker than water. The development of cross-strait relations over the past 66 years shows that no matter what kind of winds and rains are experienced by compatriots on the two sides, no matter how long divisions last, there is no power that can separate us.

MR XI

Beijing has pitched the AIIB, which now has 57 founding members, as an alternative to existing institutions such as the World Bank.

As this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Mr Zhang said Mr Xi has invited his Taiwanese compatriots to co-write history books to "jointly protect cross-strait history". Japan has been heavily criticised for its efforts to whitewash its actions during the war.

While Mr Xi and Mr Ma struck a friendly tone in their first - and most likely last - meeting that was held in Singapore, China maintained a hard stance on Taiwan's sovereignty, which it does not recognise.

"Right now, the biggest threat facing both sides is the pro-Taiwan independence forces. Taiwan's independence will hinder peaceful cross-strait development and bring about disaster," said Mr Zhang.

China's point-man on cross- strait relations added that the Chinese leader is willing to share the fruits of China's growth with the people of Taiwan.

President Ma's Kuomintang (KMT) has caused unease among some Taiwanese by pulling the two sides closer economically. The KMT's candidate, Mr Eric Chu, is trailing the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party's Tsai Ing-wen in opinion polls.

While Mr Zhang said Mr Xi had pledged that China would not get involved in Taiwan's January presidential election, he also said the cross-strait relationship was not state-to-state.

"We shall never accept or tolerate the separatists. We hold the same attitude as always," said Mr Zhang.

During the Q&A session, Mr Zhang said this summit fully demonstrated to the world that the Chinese of both sides of the strait have the ability and wisdom to resolve their own problems.

BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 08, 2015, with the headline 'Leaders agree a hotline can help both sides handle emergencies'. Print Edition | Subscribe