A single misstep in protocol could have sent yesterday's summit spinning off in the wrong direction, but the mainland's Xi Jinping and Taiwan's Ma Ying-Jeou pulled off the balancing act, creating a friendly atmosphere that matched their message of brotherhood. The two sides last joined together on neutral ground in Singapore in 1993, with the island's then top negotiator Koo Chen-fu and his mainland counterpart Wang Daohan taking separate elevators to the meeting room and timing their journeys precisely to arrive at the same time. "Mr" Xi and "Mr" Ma, as they agreed call each other, also entered their summit through different sides of the room simultaneously, walking towards each other at a matched pace to meet in the centre of a stage before more than 600 members of the press. Xi had arrived at the Shangri-La Hotel earlier than Ma, who entered the building through a different entrance. When they were before the public, Xi offered his hand first. "I felt pretty good, " Ma told reporters later, recalling the handshake. "Both of us were holding hands very firmly." As many observers had expected, the two leaders each wore a tie in accordance with their political party's colour - Xi a red one for the mainland's Communist Party, and Ma a blue one representing Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang. It was the same colours in 2005 when Xi's predecessor, Hu Jintao , met then Kuomintang chairman Lien Chan in Beijing. Xi and Ma shook hands and smiled for about 80 seconds, turning in different directions for the flashing cameras. The press corps asked them to wave and they obliged. They walked out shoulder to shoulder, continuing to smile and maintaining eye contact, appearing like old friends. Unlike Taiwan's elected politicians, the mainland's Communist Party officials are renowned for their staid, dour demeanour in public. But at some points in their extended handshake, Xi broke with his usual restrained smile and flashed a toothy grin. Xi forewent the press conference held after the closed-door meeting. The director of the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office, Zhang Zhijun , instead faced the media, while Ma, who said he "would like to meet the reporters himself", returned to the spotlight. Zhang stood alone behind a rostrum and mostly read notes from the talks. He took only three questions from the mainland's state media and other friendly organisations, despite the loud complaints from the Taiwanese media. Ma sat down at a table with five of his officials and answered dozens of questions thrown at him. He seemed well prepared, carrying a book written by the same journalist who asked the first question and then held it up for the reporters to see. The Taiwan delegation had name cards on the table in front of them that bore Taiwan's flag with Ma's reading "president" in traditional Chinese characters. Ma's gift to Xi was a handcrafted statue of a Taiwan blue magpie, which according to the island's officials was 53cm high, 31cm long and 28cm wide, weighing about 2.7kg. Ma had also prepared two bottles of sorghum liquor made in 1990 for the banquet, as well as eight jars of Matsu wine. The mainland side has not yet revealed what present Xi gave to Ma. Last month during his state visit to Britain, Xi presented Queen Elizabeth with two music albums by his wife, the folk singer Peng Liyuan , in return for a collection of Shakespeare's sonnets.