The Strategist

Increasingly Cozy Relationship Between Taiwan and China

11/04/2015 - 15:10

Chinese President Xi Jinping and President of Taiwan Ma Ying-jeou will hold a historic meeting on Saturday in Singapore. It will be the first bilateral talks since 1949. However, Beijing is still stressing the country adhere to the "one China" policy - so it is not a full-fledged bilateral meeting of the two presidents, but talks of leaders of the Taiwan Strait’s two sides.

The historic business lunch of Xi Jinping and Ma Ying-jeou is appointed on this Saturday in Singapore. On Wednesday, the information about the first meeting of this level since 1949 have been confirmed by Beijing. Recall that in 1949, contacts between Beijing and the island administration were terminated until the end of the 1980s, when they began to renew business and informal communication.

However, as noted in the statement of the Chinese side, for Beijing it is a "pragmatic meeting" without abandoning the principle of "one China." "By agreement of the parties, the two sides will hold a meeting in status of leaders of the Taiwan Strait’s two sides. In the situation where both sides have not yet resolved political differences, this agreement is a pragmatic solution for meeting organizations based on the principle of one China,"- said Head of the Taiwan Affairs Working Office of the Communist Party of China Zhang Zhijun.

The meeting may be particularly relevant against the backdrop of persistent regional conflicts and the growing tension between the US and China. Secretary General of the Government of Japan Yoshihide Suga welcomed the statement on the meeting on Wednesday: "Peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is crucial for the region and for the world. We will closely monitor the current dialogue".

The question whether political integration should follow the economic cooperation with China will be a key in the election campaign in Taiwan before the upcoming 2016 presidential elections. According to experts, in spite of unwillingness to change status quo in the bilateral dialogue, Taipei can strengthen mediating role in multilateral cooperation in the region, which may play game for Beijing.