Ma-Xi meet to explore higher-level cross-strait communication channel

11/05/2015 04:28 PM
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Taipei, Nov. 5 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said Thursday that one of the issues to be discussed during his upcoming meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) will include exploring the possibility of establishing a higher-level communication channel across the Taiwan Strait.

Speaking at an international news conference held at the Presidential Office two days before his scheduled departure for Singapore to exchange views on cross-strait issues with Xi, Ma said he hopes the meeting will serve as the first step in making meetings between the leaders of the two sides of the strait a regular occurrence.

Ma noted that the semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation in Taiwan and its Chinese counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), are the first level of cross-strait communication channel.

Dialogue between Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council and the Taiwan Affairs Office under China's State Council is the second level and is currently the main conduit across the strait, he added.

"We don't rule out the possibility of establishing a higher-level communication channel in the future, and we will discuss this in the meeting," Ma said in response to questions on how to create a contact window across the strait in an effort to institutionalize meetings between the leaders on the two sides.

He also expressed hope that the meeting will help make future meetings regular, so that whoever wins Taiwan's next presidential elections in January, summits between the leaders of Taiwan and China will be continued to promote cross-strait relations.

Ma is scheduled to depart for Singapore Nov. 7 on a chartered flight and meet with Xi later that same day. They will hold separate news conferences after the closed-door meeting and then have dinner together, after which Ma will return to Taiwan.

This will be the first meeting between the top leaders of Taiwan and China in 66 years since Taiwan and China split at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.

The leaders will be able to interact by agreeing to address each other as "Mister" rather than by their official titles, said Ma, adding that they will not sign any agreements or issue any joint declarations during the meeting.

He also said that his meeting with Xi is not aimed at boosting his personal legacy after he steps down in May 2016, nor is it intended to salvage the flagging ruling Kuomintang campaign in the run up to the Jan. 16 presidential election, but is designed entirely "for the good of the next generation."

The Ma-Xi talks coincide with a state visit by Xi to Singapore.

(By Claudia Liu and Elaine Hou)ENDITEM/J

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