Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou and Chinese President Xi Jinping are scheduled to meet Saturday to discuss regional peace and stability, various media outlets reported Tuesday. The meeting will mark the first time the nations' leaders have met since a territorial split following a civil war in 1949.
The meeting will take place in Singapore, a spokesman said. There was no official announcement, but Taiwan's leader was expected to publicize the trip Thursday. Local media quoted Taiwan spokesman Chen Yi Hsin. The world leaders will exchange views on "consolidating cross-strait peace and maintaining the cross-strait status quo," the Central News Agency said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"No agreement will be signed, and no statement issued," Chen said, according to the BBC.
— FRANCE 24 (@FRANCE24) November 3, 2015
China has contested Taiwan's independence since 1949, when Nationalist forces lost a civil war against Communists and fled China's mainland. The Beijing government considers Taiwan a breakaway province of China and has said that a formal declaration of independence could prompt military intervention, CNN reported. China's harsh stance has kept Taiwan out of the United Nations.
Despite the tensions, the two countries have seen increased trade in recent years. Ma, who came to power in 2008, has sought to strengthen ties with China. China is the greatest importer of goods from Taiwan, and hundreds of flights go back and forth between the two countries each week. Some have speculated that Ma's more conciliatory approach to China has done damage to his image in Taiwan. The upcoming meeting was expected to draw criticism by Ma's opponents.
— Stratfor (@Stratfor) November 3, 2015
Taiwan has presidential elections coming up in January, and while Ma cannot run because of term limits, his party has struggled in the lead-up to the election. The main opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party, which has been more firm in distancing itself from Beijing, has been leading the polls.