China / HK Macao Taiwan

Taiwan leader says it's his duty to 'build a bridge'

By Xinhua (China Daily) Updated: 2015-11-06 07:20

Taiwan leader says it's his duty to 'build a bridge'

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee meets Lien Chan, former chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT) in Beijing on Sept 1, 2015. [Photo/]

Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou said on Thursday that he will try to deepen cooperation and reduce hostility on certain issues across the Taiwan Straits during a historic meeting with Xi Jinping in Singapore on Saturday.

Ma told a news conference that he hoped the meeting would be the first step of a regular arrangement in the future.

"The meeting looks to the well-being of our next generation," Ma said.

"I feel it is my duty to build a bridge for the two sides, so whoever is the next 'president' can use it to cross the river."

He said both sides of the Straits should work toward lowering hostility, broadening communication and deepening interaction. "This is the first step toward normalization of meetings between the leaders."

Since 2008, 11 rounds of cross-Straits talks have been held and 23 important cross-Straits agreements signed, including lifting bans on direct shipping, air transportation and postal services in 2008, and the long-awaited Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement in 2010.

Cross-Straits interaction has progressed from talks between non-governmental organizations to meetings between cross-Straits affairs chiefs of both sides.

The Chinese mainland has hailed the scheduled meeting as "a breakthrough" and "a milestone."

On Wednesday, Zhang Zhijun, head of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said that the decision showed the willingness on both sides to put aside differences while respecting each other.

The meeting will be the first for the two sides in 66 years since the Kuomintang, led by Chiang Kai-shek, fled to Taiwan after being defeated in the civil war.

Xi and Ma will meet in their capacity as "leaders of the two sides of the Straits" and address each other as "mister".

Zhang said the Singapore meeting is a pragmatic arrangement reached between the mainland and Taiwan in line with the one-China principle.

Taiwan and Hong Kong media reported that the meeting would take place at Singapore's Shangri-la Hotel, and the leaders will dine together later in the evening.

AFP contributed to this story.

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