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    » 11/06/2008, 00.00


    Historic handshake between Ma Ying-jeou and Beijing envoy

    It is the first time since 1949. The Taiwanese president also explained that in the name of the "welfare" of all, the security of Taiwan and its international status must also be addressed.

    Taipei (AsiaNews/Agencies) - For the first time since 1949, a Taiwanese president has shaken the hand of a leader from Beijing. The historic meeting took place today between Ma Ying-jeou and Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin, head of relations with the strait. A large security force was deployed around the site of the encounter, to prevent attacks on the part of anti-Beijing activists.

    Until now, relations between China and Taiwan had been maintained among businessmen and party figures, but had not directly involved the president of Taiwan, a post that China does not acknowledge because it considers Taiwan a rebel island to be restored to the mainland. Ma Ying-jeou, the third democratically elected president of the island, decided to implement a more cordial policy with China, unlike his predecessor Chen Shuibian, detested by Beijing because of his pro-independence aims.

    The meeting lasted less than 10 minutes, during which Ma and Chen exchanged gifts. Chen gave the president of Taiwan a painting depicting a horse ("ma" in Chinese, with a sound similar to the president's name). Ma's gift was a porcelain vase.

    At the meeting, which was broadcast on television, Ma also gave a short speech in which he praised the "major step forward for cross-strait ties."

    Chen arrived in Taiwan on November 3, for a five-day visit to sign economic agreements and reinforce the air, postal, and naval ties between the island and China.

    "The development fits the expectations of the people of both sides and will contribute to cross-strait stability and prosperity," Ma said. "But we cannot deny that differences and challenges still exist, such as Taiwan's security and Taiwan's position in the international community. In the future both sides should see the reality and should not deny each other's existence in order to promote the welfare of the people and cross-strait peace and to resolve our differences."

    Not far from the location of the meeting, hundreds of people had gathered to protest the presence of Chen, and against what they call the "selling out" of Taiwan to China, which is to the advantage of Taiwanese businessmen but not that of all the people. The protests were organized by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which supports the independence of the island.

    So far, China has always threatened invasion, and has 800 missiles pointed against the island in case it should declare independence. Taiwan, which does not have a seat at the UN, is recognized by only 23 countries. Despite the precarious state of its diplomacy, Taiwan is the only fully democratic Chinese region, with an economy that is among the largest in the world.

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    See also

    07/11/2008 TAIWAN - CHINA
    "Historic" visit of Beijing envoy to Taiwan concludes
    Trade agreements, a visit to President Ma, economic prospects. The voyage of Chen Yunlin had many positive aspects, although it was marked by many anti-Chinese demonstrations.

    07/04/2008 TAIWAN - CHINA
    The vice president of Taiwan is going to China, and may meet with Hu Jintao
    Vincent Siew will participate in the prestigious Boao Forum, together with Hu and various world leaders. Experts: Beijing thus shows it wants to "open up" to the new president of Taiwan.

    21/02/2005 CHINA-TAIWAN
    China vs the US and Japan over Taiwan
    According to Tokyo and Washington the Taiwan issue involves international security. For Beijing, Taiwan is an internal matter and is launching a diplomatic offensive against the island in the Caribbean.

    18/07/2005 CHINA – TAIWAN
    Hu Jintao congratulates Ma Ying-jeou, KMT's new leader
    Chinese President Hu Jintao's congratulations arrive a day after the election, one day too late according to Taiwan media.

    23/04/2009 TAIWAN - CHINA
    Direct flights between China and Taiwan will be increased for the sake of more profit
    The idea is to double them to more than 200 per week. Behind the desire for closer relations is also pure economic calculation by the Chinese airlines, which are looking to tap in to a lucrative market.

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