Singapore 'glad to facilitate meeting'

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou wave to photographers as they enter the room at the Shangri-la Hotel in Singapore on Nov 7, 2015.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou wave to photographers as they enter the room at the Shangri-la Hotel in Singapore on Nov 7, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

Singapore has been a consistent supporter of relations between China and Taiwan, including direct cross-strait dialogue and the institutionalisation of cross-strait exchanges, said a spokesman for Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou that took place last Saturday.

The MFA, in response to queries from the media on the historic meeting, said Singapore was "glad to facilitate" the summit.

"Building on the foundation of the 1993 Wang-Koo talks, this successful meeting has established a precedent for top leaders of both sides to directly engage each other," the spokesman said, referring to a meeting that also took place in Singapore between Mr Wang Daohan, chairman of China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, and Mr Koo Chen-fu, chief of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation.

Calling Singapore a "good and long-time friend of both sides", the MFA also said it looks forward to "sustained peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, which will enhance the security and prosperity of our region".

Mr Ma, in reply to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's Facebook post late last Saturday on the leaders' meeting, also mentioned the Wang-Koo talks, as well as his meeting with former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew at the East Asian Economic Summit in 2003.

Thanking PM Lee and Singapore for the "warm welcome", the Taiwan leader highlighted how Singapore had played a vital role in facilitating peaceful cross- strait relations.

"Without you and your father, none of this could have happened," he added.

Replying to Mr Ma's comment, Mr Lee described Singapore as an "old friend" of China and Taiwan.

"Singapore is glad to have played a modest role providing the venue for the meeting, just as we did with the Wang-Koo talks in 1993," he said.

Jeremy Lee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2015, with the headline 'Singapore 'glad to facilitate meeting''. Print Edition | Subscribe