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Ma-Xi meeting a major achievement in itself: former AIT chair

Ma-Xi meeting a major achievement in itself: former AIT chair

Washington, Nov. 5 (CNA) The upcoming meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou (???) and Chinese leader Xi Jinping (???) will be an achievement in itself and any other expectations for breakthrough are low, Richard Bush, former chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, said. Richard Bush, now director of the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution, was referring to a scheduled meeting in Singapore on Saturday between the leaders of Taiwan and China, the first of its kind in 66 years of separate rule. "It appears that the meeting itself will be the event's principal achievement. Expectations for any other breakthroughs are being set very low," Bush said in an article on the think tank's website on Nov. 4. The two leaders will exchange views on promoting peaceful development of cross-strait relations and discuss major issues on deepening cross-strait relations in various areas and improving the people's welfare, Bush said, citing a senior Chinese official. Taiwan has said that the meeting will not result in any agreements or joint declaration, which Bush said is "appropriate" since the work of concluding agreements between the two sides has ground to a halt, not least because of politics in Taiwan. Bush also said it is premature to speculate on the meeting's impact on Taiwan's presidential election on Jan. 16, in which Ma's Kuomintang (KMT) is struggling. "Does Ma hope to improve the KMT's chances as well as consolidate his legacy in building cross-(Taiwan) Strait cooperation? Why did Xi agree to the meeting, something Ma has sought for some time now? It's hard to know," Bush wrote. Bush also said that choosing "a third country like Singapore plays better for Ma within Taiwan than doing so on China territory." Singapore was where senior figures of Taiwan and China held a ground-breaking meeting in 1993, which Ma helped facilitate when he was deputy chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, Bush noted. He also said it is good for Ma that he and Xi will be referred to as "the leader of Taiwan," and "the leader of the mainland," respectively, because "it creates some equivalence between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait." "The nomenclature is also artful because it avoids the fraught issue of the political and legal status of Taiwan and its government," Bush wrote. He described Taiwan as "deeply divided," with one side supporting Ma's outreach and engagement with China, believing that the gains outweigh the costs. On the other side are people who have opposed Ma's policies on the grounds "that they benefit only certain sectors of Taiwan society and , more ominously, have put the island's 23 million people on a slippery slope to political incorporation by Beijing," Bush said. The Democratic Progressive Party, led by Tsai Ing-wen (???), the front runner in the January presidential election, issued a five-point statement that questioned the timing and content of the Xi-ma meeting and objected to the secrecy under which it was arranged, Bush noted. "In the next two weeks, we are likely to see a fierce struggle between the Ma administration and the DPP opposition to define the significance of the Ma-Xi encounter for Taiwan's future," he said. (By Tony Liao and Lilian Wu)

Updated : 2021-09-19 17:34 GMT+08:00