Can a handshake end six decades of enmity?
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou met last week, marking the first time in almost 70 years that the leaders of the two countries have held formal talks.
Taiwan used to be a part of China until the Chinese civil war in 1949. When Mao Zedong and his Communist Party of China defeated Chang Kai-shek, the Chinese Nationalist Party and its supporters fled to Taiwan and set up a government-in-exile. Since the civil war, mainland China has been known officially as the People’s Republic of China, while Taiwan has been a separate sovereign entity, known as the Republic of China.
Historically, there is a lot of bad blood between the two nations. However, they do have a shared cultural heritage that could lead to strong ties down the line. The meeting has been a remarkable symbol and show of faith by both administrations, but the differences between China and Taiwan run deep. Since China does not officially recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation and vice versa, neither leader would refer to his counterpart as president. They each used the title “mister” when addressing each other.
— The Associated Press (@AP) November 7, 2015
Taiwan is a very small nation in terms of both landmass and population, but it is powerful, economically. The large gap in terms of military power and natural resources has made Taiwan very wary of China’s aggressive actions. China’s expansion into the South China Sea and territorial disputes with the Philippines have stirred up apprehension among Taiwan’s population. Last year, a student-led protest against a trade deal with China occupied Taiwan’s legislature for an entire month.
The meeting between the two leaders was brief, but each country has stated it is looking forward to developing relations and closing the ideological gap between two nations which are separated by only 100 miles of ocean.
Does Taiwan still have reason to fear mainland China? Is unification between China and Taiwan a realistic long term goal? Feel free to leave a comment or find me on Twitter @Andrew_Morse4