Xi, ex-Taiwan Pres Ma meet ahead of inauguration of island's new exec

<p>Chinese President Xi Jinping <em>(Anadolu)</em></p>

Chinese President Xi Jinping (Anadolu)

ANKARA – Chinese President Xi Jinping met with former Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou in Beijing on Wednesday, marking the first time that a serving or former leader of the self-governed island has met with the Chinese top in nine years, state media reported.

The two last met in Singapore in Nov. 2015, when Ma was in office, marking the first cross-strait summit since the two sides split in 1949 after a civil war, English daily South China Morning Post reported.

Footage aired on local TV channels showed the pair shaking hands ahead of their closed-door talks.

The former leader of Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang, who was leading a group of Taiwanese students on a cultural exchange trip, wrapped up an 11-day “journey of peace” to China, following a landmark visit just more than a year ago.

His visit came amid soaring cross-strait tensions, with just more than a month to go before William Lai Ching-te of the independence-leaning ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) takes over as Taiwan’s president.

Lai, who serves as vice president under the current administration, has been labeled by Beijing as a “separatist” who could bring war to the island.

Beijing sees Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary. (Anadolu)