Sin­ga­pore plays pos­i­tive role in ties with Tai­wan

China Daily (Canada) - - XI’S VISITS - By HENA hena@chi­

Sin­ga­pore, which has been a well­spring for key ad­vance­mentsin cross-Straits ties in the past, is once again at­tract­ing world at­ten­tion with an an­nounce­ment by the Tai­wan Af­fairs Of­fice of the State Coun­cil thatGen­eral Sec­re­tary of the Com­mu­nistPar­ty­ofChi­naCen­tral Com­mit­tee Xi Jin­ping and Tai­wan leader Ma Ying-jeou will meet there on Satur­day to ex­change views on the fu­ture of re­la­tions.

It will be the first crossS­traits meet­ing be­tween top lead­ers of both sides of the Tai­wan Straits since the found­ing ofNewChina in 1949.

NiYongjie, deputy di­rec­tor of the Shang­hai In­sti­tute of Tai­wan Stud­ies, said he be­lieves Sin­ga­pore was cho­sen mainly be­cause it has played a spe­cial role in re­la­tions in the past.

In April 1993, Wang Dao­han, then-pres­i­dent of the main­landAs­so­ci­a­tion for Re­la­tions across the Tai­wan Straits, andKoo Chen-fu, chair­man of the Straits Ex­change Foundation in Tai­wan, held a ground­break­ing meet­ing in Sin­ga­pore.

“The meet­ing marked the be­gin­ning of cross-Straits en­gage­ment and laid the foundation for fur­ther im­prove­ment of ties,” Ni said. “Lee Kuan-yew, the first prime min­is­ter of Sin­ga­pore, played an im­por­tant role in pro­mot­ing the suc­cess of the meet­ing. Sin­ga­pore’s con­tri­bu­tion to cross-Straits re­la­tions has been writ­ten into his­tory.”

Ni said that Xi and Ma had many choices of places to meet, but Sin­ga­pore was best. As a coun­try whose main pop­u­la­tion has an­ces­tral homes in China, Sin­ga­pore has long played a pos­i­tive role, he said.

“Sin­ga­porean lead­ers have main­tained close re­la­tions with both sides over the years and earned their mu­tual trust,” he said.

How­ever, Li Ji­aquan, former di­rec­tor of the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences’ In­sti­tute of Tai­wan Stud­ies, ex­pressed a dif­fer­ent view, say­ing he thought­the­choice­ofSin­ga­pore was merely ex­pe­di­ent.

“Tai­wan’s elec­tion cam­paign is head­ing into the home­stretch, and the Kuom­intang is fac­ing a land­slide de­feat. The KMTis de­ter­mined to win sup­port from the main­land to turn the sit­u­a­tion around,” Li said. “It is the last chance for the KMT. The Sin­ga­pore meet­ing fills a need at the right time.”

Some me­dia have called the meet­ing a “sur­prise”, but Zhang Guan­hua, deputy head of the In­sti­tute of Tai­wan Stud­ies at CASS, said it was to be ex­pected.

“Ac­tu­ally the meet­ing is an event both sides have hoped for — and for a long time — since re­la­tions with the main­land be­gan to warm af­ter Ma came to power in 2008,” Zhang said.

Ac­cord­ing to Zhang, Sin­ga­pore in some sense is con­sid­ered a blessed place. Hold­ing the meet­ing there is a re­minder of progress al­ready achieved in cross-Straits re­la­tions, he said.

“We need to con­sider and deal­with­cross-Straits re­la­tions in a strate­gic way, with a lon­grun view. Cross-straits peace­ful de­vel­op­ment will not change be­cause of the elec­tion re­sult.”

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