Presidents of China and Taiwan meet

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      For the first time since Chinese Civil War ended in 1949, the leaders of China and Taiwan have met face to face.

      President Xi Jinping and President Ma Ying-jeou shook hands for a minute in the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore.

      Xi chairs the Chinese Communist Party and Ma is the top elected official with the Kuomintang.

      Those were the two sides that fought bitterly in the Chinese Civil War before the KMT forces fled to Taiwan, which is roughly the size of Vancouver Island.

      China has refused to recognize Taiwan's independence, still referring to it as a province.

      Today's meeting came as Taiwan's Ma is faring poorly in the polls. This hasn't gone unnoticed by many people of Taiwanese descent living in Vancouver.

      Ma can't run for a third term, and his party faces a tough opponent in next year's election in lawyer Tsai Ing-wen, who's running with the Democratic Progressive Party.

      Taiwan's polarized politics pits the more nationalistic Greens (DPP) versus the Blues (KMT), who traditionally espouse a softer approach in dealing with China.

      Today Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a news release saying that Ma five points to the meeting with Xi "for reinforcing the peaceful and prosperous status quo":

      * consolidation of the 1992 Consensus and the maintenance of the peace,

      * reduction of hostility and peaceful handling of disputes,

      * expansion of cross-strait exchanges and mutual benefits,

      * establishment of a cross-strait hotline to handle important or urgent matters,

      * and joint cooperation for cross-strait prosperity.

      According to the Taiwanese government, Xi "responded positively" to Ma's proposals concerning trade, the establishment of representative offices, transit in Taiwan for mainland Chinese travelers, mainland vocational students studying in Taiwan, international space, and participation in regional economic integration, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

      The TPP has been a major concern for Taiwanese diplomats, including William Chuang, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Vancouver.