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Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou at the Shangri-la Hotel, Singapore, Nov. 7, 2015 (AP photo by Wong Maye-E).

Ma-Xi Meeting Was Not a Milestone, but a Signal China Should Heed

Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015

Much ink has been spilled on the meeting earlier this month between Taiwan’s president, Ma Ying-jeou, and the leader of China, Xi Jinping. The fact that the two got together for a handshake and a grin is no doubt a big deal. But, at least in terms of marking a major milestone along the road to better relations, nothing happened to warrant all this attention. For the most part, despite the pageantry, the meeting changed little. On the other hand, because the gulf between China and Taiwan is as wide as ever, that should have everyone, but especially Chinese policymakers, taking notice.

Ma and Xi met in Singapore on Nov. 7 for talks over dinner. Even before it was held, the meeting was labeled “historic” because it was the first time leaders of China and Taiwan had ever met each other. And because Taiwan is considered something of a flashpoint for nuclear war, the world’s collective interest inevitably piques at any hint of diplomacy between them, since, as Winston Churchill put it, meeting jaw to jaw is better than war. ...

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