Taipei (dpa) – Hundreds of residents and students protested outside Taiwan’s parliament building Wednesday, angry over a historic meeting planned between the leaders of Taiwan and China.
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou is scheduled to hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday for the first face-to-face meeting between the leaders of Taiwan and China in six decades.
China’s top Taiwanese affairs official called the meeting a “milestone.”
It would be “a significant move that complies with the people’s wish and the trend of the time,” said Zhang Zhijun, head of mainland China’s Taiwan Work Office, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Wednesday’s protests in Taipei were being led by legislative candidate Huang Kuo-chang, who was quoted by local media shouting “No Ma-Xi meeting! Recall Ma Ying-jeou!” to the crowd.
Huang was a leader of the Sunflower Movement, which in 2014 opposed a planned trade deal with China.
“Beijing’s move will not only affect the coming presidential election (in January), but it is also a shot at Taiwan’s democracy,” protester Yung-ming Hsu, a political analyst at Taipei-based Soochow University, told reporters outside the parliament building.
Hsu said that Ma was “selling out” Taiwan’s sovereignty by conducting secret diplomacy.
Officials in Ma’s office said no agreements will be signed and no joint statement will be issued after the talks in Singapore, according to Taiwan’s state-run Central News Agency (CNA).
News of the meeting had a cautious reception among senior Taiwanese officials.
Taiwan’s Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng called for the talks to be held under principles of “equality and dignity,” and told a press conference that “the parliament supports any dialogue which helps cross-strait peace and regional stabilization.”
Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je warned Ma to be careful during the talks, CNA reported. He should have told the public earlier about the plan, Ko said.
The meeting will be “in accordance with the one-China principle,” China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency said, noting that cross-strait political differences have not been resolved.
The United States welcomed the news of the meeting, saying it has a “deep and abiding interest in the Taiwan Strait.”
“The benefits that stable and positive cross-strait ties have brought to both sides of the Taiwan Strait, the United States, and the region have been enormous,” US State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said.