Xi Jinping and Ma Ying-Jeou. Tpg via ZUMA Press

A Chinese Dinner for Two

A great deal of water has flowed through the Taiwan Strait in the 70 years since the leader of China’s Communists, Mao Zedong, met his nationalist opponent, Chiang Kai-shek. So what was the purpose of the recent meeting in Singapore between their heirs, Xi Jinping and Ma Ying-jeou, and what does it portend for China-Taiwan relations?

LONDON – A great deal of water has flowed through the Taiwan Strait in the 70 years since the leader of China’s Communists, Mao Zedong, met the leader of his nationalist opponents, Chiang Kai-shek. So the recent meeting in Singapore between their heirs, President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic and his Taiwanese counterpart, Ma Ying-jeou, could legitimately be described as historic.

The diplomatic negotiation that preceded the meeting was exquisitely complex, even covering who should pay for dinner (they split the bill). But, after a brief exchange of views behind closed doors, no joint statement was issued and only a heavily sanitized account of the meeting was made available to China’s state media.

So why did the meeting happen, and what does it portend?

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