Reactions in Taiwan

Media divided on merits of historic meeting

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeuo (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) shake hands at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore, on Nov 7, 2015.
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeuo (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) shake hands at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore, on Nov 7, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

Taiwanese media argued about the merits of their President Ma Ying-jeou's meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, as some news outlets praised his efforts while others said it served only to confirm Taiwan's subservience to the mainland.

Wide coverage was afforded to the historic meeting last Saturday in Singapore, which had been painted by opponents of Mr Ma as either an election ploy or a punt at personal glory.

Ms Tsai Ing-wen, leader of Taiwan's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said yesterday that the leaders' meeting had not made Taiwanese feel safer.

The presidential front runner said that "only the majority public opinion on Jan 16 can decide Taiwan's future and cross-strait relations".

Some Taiwanese academics said the key concern after the Ma-Xi meeting is whether the two sides will continue on a path of peaceful development after Taiwan's presidential election in January, the Central News Agency reported.

At a seminar on the outlook for cross-strait relations after the Ma-Xi meeting, Professor Kou Chien-wen, who is the director of the Graduate Institute of East Asian Studies at National Chengchi University, also said it would be worth watching if negotiations on a cross-strait trade-in-goods agreement will yield substantial results over the next few months.

Pro-ruling Kuomintang (KMT) media played up the significance of the meeting and the outcome achieved by Mr Ma.

The most important effect of the meeting between the two leaders is that it has consolidated the 1992 consensus and maintained a framework of dignity among equals, said an editorial in United Daily News.

Mr Ma made it clear to Mr Xi the consensus was that the two sides agreed there was one China, with each side having its own interpretation of what that one China means.

A survey released yesterday showed that nearly 50 per cent of the people in Taiwan believe the meeting was beneficial to efforts to promote peace.

The survey, commissioned by the legislative caucus of Mr Ma's KMT, showed that 48.1 per cent of respondents said the meeting was either "very" or "somewhat" helpful in promoting cross-strait peace.

Pro-independence media, however, slammed the meeting.

An editorial in Taipei Times compared Mr Ma meeting Mr Xi to "an emperor summoning a subordinate to meet him".

Teo Cheng Wee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2015, with the headline 'Media divided on merits of historic meeting'. Print Edition | Subscribe