Taiwan media divided on merits of Saturday's meeting

Taiwanese newspaper front-pages are dominated by reports and photos of the the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou in Singapore the previous day, in Taipei, on Nov 8, 2015.
Taiwanese newspaper front-pages are dominated by reports and photos of the the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou in Singapore the previous day, in Taipei, on Nov 8, 2015.PHOTO: EPA

BEIJING - 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 only served 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 Sunday 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-Taiwan Strait relations after the Ma-Xi meeting, Professor Kou Chien-wen, the director of the Graduate Institute of East Asian Studies at National Chengchi University, also said that it would be worth watching if negotiations on a cross-strait trade-in-goods agreement will yield substantial results in 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 clear to Mr Xi that the consensus was that the two sides agreed that there was one China, with each side having its own interpretation of what that one China means.

A survey released Sunday showed that nearly one in two 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.