China’s Xi meets former Taiwan President Ma in Beijing

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Chinese President Xi Jinping met former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou in Beijing on Wednesday, state media reported, the second time the men have met and at a time of ongoing tensions between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Since the defeated Republic of China government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war to Mao Zedong’s communists, no serving Taiwanese leader has visited China.

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Ma, president from 2008 to 2016, last year became the first former Taiwanese leader to visit China, and is now on his second trip to the country. Ma had been widely expected to meet Xi this time around.

Ma first met Xi in Singapore in late 2015 for a landmark summit shortly before the current Taiwan president, Tsai Ing-wen, won election.

Chinese state media gave no immediate details of their meeting in Beijing, only saying they had met.

Ma remains a senior member of Taiwan’s main opposition party the Kuomintang (KMT), which in January lost the presidential election for the third time in a row, but has no official party position.

The KMT advocates close ties with China and dialogue, but strongly denies being pro-Beijing.

China considers democratically-governed Taiwan its own territory, and has ramped up military and political pressure to assert those claims.

Tsai and her government reject China’s territorial claims, saying only the island’s people can decide their future.

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