The historic meeting between the leaders of Mainland China and Taiwan is the first ever of its kind. All previous meetings were between leaders of the two parties, the Communists of the Chinese Communist Party and the Nationalists of the KMT.
On a defacto basis, therefore, this has little to do with the ongoing presidential campaign in Taiwan. Neither Xi Jinping or Ma Yingjiu can be naïve enough to believe that a meeting occurring 70 days before the ballots are cast in Taiwan, can save the ruling KMT from defeat. According the opinion polls, the opposition Democratic Progressive party DPP and its presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen are leading by an unbeatable margin.
The Xi/Ma meeting, on the other hand, is historic because it represents de facto a recognition of the existence of a legitimate government in Taiwan. If Xi meets Ma today, Xi can meet Ma’s successor tomorrow. It will be harder for any future leader of the island to step out of the informal agreement that has been cast. The agreement freezes the political situation of Taiwan in a convenient vague space for both Taiwan and China. The Taiwanese government is recognized. But it isn’t clear what that government rules. Is the island a province, the Republic of China, or is it a de facto independent Taiwan?
Moreover, if the KMT, or in future the DPP, legitimately rules in Taipei so does the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing. It signals a second important political accreditation to occur in the last few weeks for the CCP. It follows the recent meeting in London where the UK and China said they would respect each other political systems.
The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Asia Times.
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