It seems unlikely that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) before Ma leaves office in 2016, but Xi seems to welcome closer engagement and communication with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), academics said yesterday.
While Ma said last week he does not rule out meeting Xi before the end of his term, which would be headline news if it took place, the timing and location for such a meeting would require sophisticated planning, as would nomenclature for the two at any meeting, professors told a symposium on cross-strait relations organized by Taiwan Competitiveness Forum.
“I haven’t seen Ma trying to generate any positive atmosphere for the historical meeting to happen comparable to what happened before the first Inter-Korea Summit in 2000,” said historian Hsu Tsung-mao (徐宗懋), a former journalist.
The meeting is not likely to happen unless Ma meets Xi in his capacity as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman, as there have been several KMT-Chinese Communist Party (CCP) meetings in the past, Taiwan Strategy Research Association president Wang Kun-yi (王崑義) said.
Wang also argued that Taiwan is not high on Xi’s agenda, as he has many other issues to address, such as fighting corruption and political reform, making the meeting less likely to happen.
On the other hand, it seems that the CCP is ready to talk to the DPP without asking the party to recognize the one China framework, as shown by Taiwan Affairs Office Director Zhang Zhijun’s (張志軍) meeting with former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) in Hong Kong recently, Wang added.
“The chance [of a Ma-Xi meeting] is still there. The point is that such a meeting could only be symbolic of friendship rather than substantial,” National Taipei Medical University assistant professor Chang Kuo-cheng (張國城) said.
Even if the meeting takes place, it is not likely that the political division and military standoff across the strait would be eliminated or eased, which means it would not be meaningful, he said.
Reviewing the development of cross-strait relations, Chang said the CCP has had three major achievements.
“First, it made sure that the KMT would be a pro-China party after the KMT-CCP platform was established in 2005. Second, it made sure that Chinese influence would have staying power in Taiwan after the 2008 presidential elections, regardless of which party governs Taiwan,” Chang said.
The third and perhaps the most important achievement, he said, was the establishment of the communication platform between the CCP and Hsieh’s Taiwan Reform Foundation, because “the DPP would not return to its past ideology which insisted on Taiwanese independence.”
However, a more China-friendly DPP does not mean the party would be able to convince both Taiwanese voters and Beijing that it could be trusted in power again, even if Hsieh’s moderate China policy and his advocacy of “two constitutions, different interpretations” becomes the mainstream policy of the DPP, it would still have to compete with the KMT to win Beijing’s favor, he said.