China, Taiwan Presidents to Meet in Singapore, despite growing public opinion backlash
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou will meet for the first time in Singapore amidst the expected public opinion backlash.
Reuters reported that the meeting coincides with Taiwan's growing anti-China sentiments as the presidential and parliamentary elections are nearing this January. Pro-China Kuomintang is projected to lose the elections against Democratic Progressive party, which advocates for independence from China. Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou already established relations with China since he became head in 2008. He has advanced economic ties with the mainland by signing landmark business and certain tourism deals.
According to The Wall Street Journal, President Ma's spokesman Charles Chen said the meeting's main objective is to secure peace along the Taiwan Strait. The leaders would exchange views on the issues regarding the straight, said the spokesman. They are not expected to sign any agreements or come up with a joint statement, according to Chen.
Meanwhile, Forbes gave three potential outcomes to the meeting. First, China will find ease that Taiwan finally went into political discussions with them as this is what Chinese President Xi Jinping has been pursuing. For China, the meeting would mean it would lead to deeper negotiations in the future, and that is enough. Second, the meeting would strengthen Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou's image as a peacemaker. He has been advocating for peace in the disputed East and South China seas. Third, even though there will be no contract signing and no united statements released, the meeting would lead to an invisible agreement between the two presidents. When Ma steps down next year, Tsai Ing-wen is expected to take over. He is not a big fan to the present friendly meeting between China and Taiwan's presidents.
The US will be closely watching the presidential meeting. In 1979, the United States of America has made diplomatic relations with Beijing. However, the US is obliged by its own laws to help Taiwan defend itself. The White House announced Wednesday that the meeting was too soon, but lauded the act.