Historic Xi-Ma meeting: All you need to know in 7 points

Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou meet in Singapore on Nov 7, 2015.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou meet in Singapore on Nov 7, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - In a historic first, China's President Xi Jinping and Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou met and shook hands for a full minute at the Shangri-La Hotel on Saturday (Nov 7).

The summit comes 66 years after the last meeting between the top leaders from both sides of the Taiwan Strait in 1949.

Wondering why the meeting has attracted so much interest? Here's all you need to know in seven points:

1. 1992 consensus

The 1992 consensus - that there is one China with the two sides having different interpretations of what this means - was a key topic.

The consensus - which Mr Ma described on Saturday as a "mastery of ambiguity" - is the basis on which semi-official talks first took place in 1993.

After a moratorium from 1999, talks resumed under Mr Ma in 2008.


Mr Ma holds up a document during the press conference. ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

2. Hotline between top cross-strait officials

Mr Ma called for a hotline to be set up between the heads of China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) and Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC).

3. Taiwan's international space

Mr Ma raised an issue close to Taiwanese hearts - the problems they face when participating in non-governmental organisations and global bodies.

Mr Xi said he understood Taiwan's need for more international space - as long as it does not go against the "one China" policy.

Since Taiwan left the United Nations in 1971 and China was admitted to the world body, the island has faced increasing isolation as Beijing sought to limit its international space.

4. Taipei's request to join AIIB

Mr Xi said he welcomes Taiwan to take part in the Beijing-led Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) after previously turning Taipei down.


Mr Xi (third from right) and Mr Ma (third from left) deliver opening remarks before their closed-door meeting. PHOTO: REUTERS

5. Chinese missiles

Mr Ma raised the sensitive topic of China's missile deployment. Taiwan has long fretted about batteries pointed its way - to which Mr Xi replied that the deployment was not targeted at Taiwan.

6. Setting up of representative office

China said it would speed up the process of setting up representative office in Taiwan and vice versa, an agreement which was made in 2014 between the top cross-strait officials from both sides.


Media waiting at the ballroom during the Xi-Ma meeting. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

7. Significance of summit

With Mr Ma due to step down in about six months' time when fresh elections are called, the long-term success of the day's discussion was questioned. This is especially so if Ms Tsai Ing-Wen of the pro-independence DPP takes over.

Mr Ma, however, said the meeting will have impact far beyond his term.

He told the media: "I may have six months left, but Mr Xi has seven more years to go."