Tour - China
What was meant to be a private meeting between the leaders of China and Taiwan turned out to be the main event on President Xi Jinping's agenda during his official state visit to Singapore. There were many agreements and MOUs to sign at the Istana between Singapore and China, speeches at NUS and other programs, but all turned out to be sideshows. More than 600 media representatives congregated at the Shangri-La Hotel in eager anticipation of something big or that at least a historic event would unfold after the meeting which they would not want to miss. The Chinese mainland and Taiwan were technically still at war after the KMT government fled the mainland after a long fought civil war. No peace agreement was signed since that eventful day in 1949 and both sides were officially not on speaking terms, diplomatically. A meeting of the two leaders was not on the diplomatic agenda despite the strong and multi faceted relations between the people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits. The mainland is the biggest trading partner for Taiwan and the growth engine driving Taiwan's economy. But the leaders are not meant to be speaking to each other in public or in an official capacity. Mainland-Taiwan reconciliation – A handshake that was 66 years late Chua Chin Leng[Photo provided to Chinadaily.com.cn] Earlier media reports on the meeting between Ma and Xi said it was supposed to be a private affair and no press statement was expected from the meeting. The dramatic turn of events when both leaders appeared shaking hands in front of the media of the world, giving off their warmest handshakes and smiles were signs that the meeting went off very well, or at least better than expected. The 66-years-late handshake was followed by a press conference held separately by the mainland and Taiwan. In the case of the mainland, only 3 questions were accepted and the press conference ended quickly. In the case of Taiwan, it was like the mainland acquiescing to Taiwan's request for more space in the world stage, a full panel of officials led by Ma Ying-jeou faced the media and took more than a dozen questions from the crowded floor.