They are the President of two Chinese entities.
Number one is Xi Jinping who rules the XXL People’s Republic of China from Beijing.
His fellow is the President of the Republic of China, Ma Ying-jeou, on the S-Island of Taiwan.
Both met today in Singapore.
It is the first time Presidents of China and Taiwan meet, since the Chinese Civil War ended in 1949.
After losing the war, the Kuomintang set up a new government on the large island under Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, who had led the Nationalists in their fight against the Communists.
Today, a historic handshake.
Since 66 years mainland China still sticks to the „one-China“-policy, demanding a re-unification with the island.
Some in Taiwan agree, but not all. Many want to stay separate from the mainland, the main issue being what level of economic and social freedoms the Taiwanese could expect. Would Taiwan turn fully Communist, or could the Taiwanese edge Red China closer towards democratic reforms?
One comparison that comes up often is with East and West Germany before reunification. The Federal Republic of Germany (BRD) in Bonn was promoting re-unification since ist founding in 1949 and succeeded 41 years later. The Communist Democratic Republic of Germany (DDR/GDR) in East-Berlin, on the other hand, demanded full recognition as a separate German state and was fiercely against unification. In 1990 the communists lost control,ntegrated into the Western concept, after the population demanded and voted for one Germany, and Russia acquiesced.
The road to re-unification in Central Europe was paved by a clever double-strategy of power and reconciliation. A strong engagement of the BRD in the European Union and NATO brought Paris, London and Washington all on the same side.
The detente policy of Chancellor Willy Brandt (in office 1969 – 1974), designed by his mastermind Egon Bahr furthered „change through rapprochement“ and made sure that the window of opportunity stayed open indefinitely. Bahr passed away some months ago.
Finally Helmut Kohl in 1989 and 1990 was the mastermind of re-unification, backed by George Bush and Michail Gorbachev.
Can this success-story be repeated in China?
Taiwan is a success in itself. As one of the “Four Asian Tigers” alongside Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore, Taiwan has seen rapid growth in the decades since the 1980s. Since 1990s Taiwan has strong business ties to the People’s Republic of China, with more than $150 billion invested there by Taiwanese companies.
Since Mr Ma took office in 2008, the economic ties have improved with investments and tourism.
With the meeting he wants to promote peace and finding ways to reduce hostilities. Among them removing Red-Chinese missiles targeted at Taiwan.
We hope that the leaders of the countries will move forward and take the first step in the normalization of ties.
Mr. Ma would like to institutionalize meetings between the two governments in China and break the political isolation of the island which is still being promoted by Beijing.
The Taiwan president is taking a high risk and stands to lose power over his policy of reconciliation. His Kuomintang (KMT) Party is seen as pro-Beijing. It recently lost in local elections. Many in Taiwan fear that reunification will bring with it the same kind of strict rules that the Chinese Communist Party imposes on its citizens on the mainland.