Singapore, Nov. 7 (CNA) Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) welcomed Taiwan's bid to join the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Development Bank (AIIB), President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) cited Xi as saying Saturday after a historical meeting between the two leaders.
Ma and Xi met with each other in Singapore on Saturday, the first time the leaders of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the People's Republic of China, which was founded in 1949, had ever met.
At a press conference after the mostly closed-door meeting, Ma cited Xi as saying that China was willing to discuss Taiwan's participation in the AIIB and welcomed Taiwan's bid to join the multinational financial institutions.
The comment was not new, however. Beijing had repeatedly said that it welcomed Taiwan's plan for AIIB participation soon after the plan for the bank was announced, only to reject Taiwan's bid to join the bank as a founding member in April.
The media reported that Taiwan did not disclose the name it used in its application for admission into the bank.
So far, 54 of the AIIB's 57 prospective founding members have signed the agreement to join the bank with China, India and Russia the three largest shareholders, taking 30.34 percent, 8.52 percent and 6.66 percent stakes, respectively, in the newly formed US$100 billion bank.
The AIIB, which will focus on financing infrastructure construction across Asia, is aimed at rivaling other international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and creating opportunities for Chinese construction firms abroad.
Ma said Xi has also welcomed Taiwan's plan to participate in China's "One Belt, One Road" initiative, a development strategy and framework that focuses on expanding China's influence throughout Eurasia.
Xi's comments came after Ma raised the issue in the meeting, saying Taiwan was eager to join economic blocs to become more economically integrated in the region.
China's Taiwan Affairs Office head Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) said at a separate news conference held by the Chinese side after the meeting that Xi welcomed Taiwan's participation in the AIIB "under an appropriate name."
In Taipei, Finance Minister Chang Sheng-ford (張盛和) said he believed Taiwan's odds of joining the AIIB had increased after the Ma-Xi meeting.
Chang said Xi's welcoming tone was a goodwill gesture to Taiwan, adding that Taiwan has a better chance to become a member of the AIIB with dignity in mind as well as on an equal footing.
Taiwan has said its bottom line would be to join the bank using the designation "Chinese Taipei" that it also uses for participation in other international organizations, but that it would not accept the "Taipei, China" name it has been tagged with at the Asian Development Bank.
Chang added that the "One Belt, One Road" project is expected to provide business opportunities to Taiwanese investors, which will no doubt lend support to Taiwan's economy.
(By Hsieh Chia-chen, Chiu Po-sheng and Frances Huang)enditem/ls
Post-meeting press conferences:●Ma: Taiwan to solidify '1992 consensus' to pursue cross-strait peace●Xi agrees to Ma's proposal on cross-strait hotline●President Ma finds Xi 'pragmatic, flexible and frank'●Taiwanese concerned about China's military threat, Ma told Xi●President Ma mentions 'Republic of China' in meeting with Xi