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China, Taiwan leaders shake hands for 1st time

China, Taiwan leaders shake hands for 1st time

After 66 years, Ma proposes hotline at opening summit with Xi

The latest on the historic meeting between the presidents of China and Taiwan in Singapore. All times local.


3 p.m.

The leaders of Taiwan and China have shaken hands at the start of a historic meeting marking the first top-level contact between the formerly bitter Cold War foes since they split amid civil war 66 years ago.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou came together Saturday on neutral ground in the Southeast Asian city-state of Singapore, meeting at a hotel and joining for the handshake in front of a plain yellow backdrop flanked by palm trees.

Each leader hopes to seal his legacy as one who helped bring decades of division and mistrust to a mutually acceptable end, but the meeting is more about the symbolism of coming together than about substance. Both sides have said no agreements will be signed or joint statements issued.

— By Christopher Bodeen


2 p.m.

In the Taiwanese capital, about 35 people gathered in front of the parliament building to protest the meeting between the presidents of Taiwan and China because they believe it to be a precursor to Taiwan becoming part of China.

The group, down from peak of about 200 people overnight, held a banner calling for Taiwan independence, while several dozen police officers guarded the building.

Fang Chuan-sheng, 45, a security guard, said he opposed having Taiwan's leader meet with President Xi Jinping of the People's Republic of China. "They are the PRC, and we are Taiwan. Don't let the two sides meet up. We will be eaten by Xi Jinping, I'm sure of that."


12 noon

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou says the upcoming meeting with China's leader, Xi Jinping, is a "great opportunity and I should grasp the chance of meeting him."

Talking to reporters aboard a flight from Taipei to Singapore, where the historic meeting in taking place later Saturday, Ma said that he slept "quite early" last night and was not feeling nervous.

He says: "I feel very calm right now."

Four Taiwanese fighter jets escorted Ma's plane shortly after it took off from Taipei, as is tradition of the self-governing island's air force paying respect to the president.

— By AP video journalist Johnson Lai, aboard the presidential plane


11:30 a.m.

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou has arrived in Singapore Saturday morning for the first-ever meeting with China's leader since their territories split during the Chinese civil war in 1949.

According to Taiwan's Central News Agency, Ma said before his departure from Taipei that he hopes the two leaders will take stock of bilateral relations in the past few years and look to the future. Ma said that the meeting would help solidify peace across the Taiwan Strait and maintain what he calls the status quo.

Ma and President Xi Jinping are scheduled to meet for an hour behind closed doors at the Shangri-la Hotel before having dinner together.

Ma is the successor to Chiang Kai-shek, whose Nationalists retreated to the island, while Xi now leads Mao Zedong's victorious Communists, who set up government in Beijing.

Updated : 2021-09-23 09:00 GMT+08:00