Leaders from Taiwan and China will meet face-to-face for the first time since 1949 this Saturday.
The two governments do not recognize each other. China claims that Taiwan is part of its territory. It views Taiwan as a breakaway state. The Chinese government wishes to reunify Taiwan with China. Most living in the Taiwanese democracy wish to remain separated from the Chinese.
Reactions in China and Taiwan differ. The Chinese view the meeting as a historic milestone. Some Taiwanese worry the meeting could damage its democracy.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou will meet in Singapore.
Taiwan officials told VOA that no agreements will be signed. The two leaders plan to speak about a stronger peace between Taiwan and China. They will conduct separate press conferences. Then, the two leaders will dine together in the evening.
The meeting comes weeks before Taiwan holds general and presidential elections. Taiwanese politicians were concerned about the talks. They worry about unification discussions. Some formed a rally in the capital, Taipei. Protesters urged President Ma to call off the meeting. Others demanded President Ma to leave office.
The history between communist China and democratic Taiwan is a tense history. The nationalist Chinese – assisted by the Americans - lost the three-year civil war in 1949. By the end of 1949, the nationalists fled to Taiwan. The communist Chinese have controlled mainland China since 1949.
Relations between Taiwan and China have improved during Ma’s time in office. He became president of Taiwan in 2008. He has signed 23 trade agreements with the Chinese.
The United States had diplomatic relations with Taiwan for 30 years until 1979. Then, the U.S. recognized China as the “sole legal government,” including Taiwan, says the U.S. Department of State. However, the United States continues “a robust unofficial relationship” with Taiwan.
I’m Jim Tedder.
William Ide reported on this story for VOANews.com. Jim Dresbach adapted this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.
Words in This Story
milestone – n. a very important event
rally – n. a public meeting to support or oppose someone or something
breakaway – adj. having become separate from a larger group or country
reunify – v. to make something, such as a divided country, whole again
nationalist – adj. relating to nationalism
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