Xi Jinping and Ma Ying-jeou summit

Manila was Taiwan’s first choice as venue for historic presidential summit with mainland China, says official

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 November, 2015, 11:32am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 November, 2015, 11:33am

Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, was the first choice of Taiwan as a venue for the historic summit between the island’s President Ma Ying-jeou and Xi Jinping, according to a Taiwanese official.

The two sides leaders will meet on Saturday in Singapore.

Andrew Hsia Li-yan, chairman of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, told a press conference that the talks where suggested by Zhang Zhijun, the director of the mainland’s Taiwan Affairs Office when the two met last month.

Hsia said he suggested holding the meeting in Manila during an Apec summit, but Zhang wanted the talks to be held at another location.

READ MORE: Presidents of mainland China and Taiwan to have first official meeting since 1949: Xi Jinping and Ma Ying-jeou head to Singapore

Beijing’s concern, according to Hsia, was that holding the meeting at an international-level summit could blur the lines of the “One-China policy” and infer Taiwan was a separate state.

Hsia later suggested Singapore as it hosted the first meeting since 1949 between Taiwanese and mainland non-governmental organisations in 1993, he said.

Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew was also a high-profile figure who had worked to improve cross-strait ties.

“We can consider that,” Hsia quoted Zhang as saying.

It is not the first time Beijing has rejected the idea of a leaders meeting on the sidelines of an Apec summit.

President Ma Ying-jeou had hoped to meet Xi at an Apec meeting in Beijing in November last year.

Ma said on Thursday he still hoped to meet Xi at an Apec meeting later this year.

"We hoped to meet during the Apec summit, in November, but my counterpart doesn’t have time,” he told reporters.