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Historic handshake of cross-strait leaders

2015/11/07 17:07:48

President Ma Ying-jeou (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Singapore, Nov. 7 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) shook hands for more than a minute at the start of their historic meeting at Singapore's Shangri-La Hotel at 2:59 p.m.

The meeting was the first ever between leaders of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the People's Republic of China, which was founded in 1949 after the Communists defeated the Nationalists in China's civil war.

Ma and his entourage sat across Xi and his entourage across a long table. The two leaders read prepared texts and addressed each other as Mr. Xi and Mr. Ma.

In his opening remarks, Ma said the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have developed under different systems over the past 66 years, and that the process of cross-strait relations "has not moved to cooperation and exchanges from military confrontation in a single day."

He noted the "unprecedented prosperity" between the two sides, as evidenced in the signing of 23 agreements over the past seven years, more than 40,000 cross-strait student exchanges, 8 million tourist visits and over US$170 billion in trade.

"The basis behind this huge transformation has come from peace," Ma said.

Ma said history has left complex issues for the two sides and both sides needed to address reality and deal with them with wisdom, patience and sincerity.

He listed five points on maintaining cross-strait peace and prosperity.

The five points included consolidating the "1992 consensus," which he said has been the foundation for the peaceful prosperity.

Ma also called for lowering the state of hostilities across the Taiwan Strait, expanding cross-strait exchanges, setting up a cross-strait hotline and cooperating to revitalize the Chinese nation.

"This five-point proposal is not to serve my own selfish ends but to promote the wellbeing of future generations," Ma said.

Xi, who spoke first, called the event a special day and said the changes of history had left many families on both sides traumatically separated.

But "cross-strait relations have moved to the road of peaceful development and achieved fruitful results" over the past seven years, which he attributed to the many efforts of both sides and the peoples.

Both sides were able to take the historic step due to efforts accumulated over the past seven years, Xi said.

He expressed the hope that the two sides will move to solidify their common political ground, walk on the path toward peaceful development and keep cross-strait relations on the right path.

"We are sitting here today to prevent a historic tragedy from happening again and to keep the fruits of peaceful development between the two sides from being lost," Xi said.

(By Lilian Wu)
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