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Xi-Ma meeting: Transcript of Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou's opening remarks

SINGAPORE — Leaders of political rivals Taiwan and China met today (Nov 7) for the first time in more than 60 years for talks that come amid rising anti-Beijing sentiment on the self-ruled democratic island and weeks ahead of elections there.

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, left, gives his speech to Chinese President Xi Jinping as they meet at the Shangri-la Hotel on Saturday, Nov 7, 2015, in Singapore. Photo: AP

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, left, gives his speech to Chinese President Xi Jinping as they meet at the Shangri-la Hotel on Saturday, Nov 7, 2015, in Singapore. Photo: AP

SINGAPORE — Leaders of political rivals Taiwan and China met today (Nov 7) for the first time in more than 60 years for talks that come amid rising anti-Beijing sentiment on the self-ruled democratic island and weeks ahead of elections there.

Including their historic handshake, brief opening remarks before reporters and a closed-door session, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou met for an hour on neutral ground in Singapore.

Here's the transcript of what Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said in the first 10 minutes of the meeting that was open to the media:

Mr Xi, friends from the two delegations across the straits, and people present today,

Today, I and Mr Xi in our capacities as leader across the straits, we are holding the future of the two sides across the straits and history.  

In April 1993, Mr Koo Chen-fu and Mr Wang Daohan held talks and they inked four agreements that laid the foundations of a mechanism for cross-straits dialogue.

When I spoke with the founding Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew, I said that the foundations of the cross-strait relationship should be based on well being of our people.

What is behind us is the long history of the relationship. In the past few years, we decided to replace conflict with people dialogue and we have stuck to the path of prosperity and wellbeing.

We can swear to the whole world our determination to peaceful development of people’s rights. We follow different political systems, but we develop dialogue in terms of military and economic cooperation. This is not done overnight. There are over 40,000 of cross-strait student exchanges annually. There are US$170 billion of trade value across the straits. These are the fruits of our relations.

The ancient book of “shang shu” says we have to really trust each other and seek pragmatic strategies. In the past few years, we have reached a couple of cooperative deals. This is in line with expectations across the straits and also the global community.

I want to make five proposals for peaceful development:  

In 1992, we reached the 1 China consensus. This is the political foundation of cross straits relationship that we both stick to. It is on this foundation that we reached 23 agreements, making the relationship its very best in 66 years.

Second, we have to reduce animosity across the straits. We are never enemies like before. We cannot develop animosity and we need to resolve conflict through dialogue.

Third, increase exchanges and cooperation. We need to establish institutions on each other’s side and create win-win cooperation with each other.

Fourth, we need need hotlines on both sides. As the two exchange foundations across the strait, we have established communication mechanisms. We also have to establish hotlines between Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council and China’s Mainland Taiwan Affairs Office.

We are all descendents of the chinese people. We should cooperate together and rejuvenate the Chinese nation.This is not out of our self-interests but for the benefit of our future generations. We must value what people value and safeguard peace across the strait to ensure win-win cooperation.

Mr Xi, today’s cross-strait relations most peaceful since 1994. In the past few years, I always see Taiwanese students discuss and research with Chinese students. I have seen them study together. This is very heartfelt. They are all very passionate and innovative.

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