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Polls show Xi-Ma meeting wins strong applause in Taiwan

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Taiwan's opposition presidential candidate retains a big lead ahead of upcoming elections, according to two opinion polls released on Monday, despite a historic summit between President Ma Ying-jeou and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"A majority of Taiwan residents have acknowledged the significance of the Xi-Ma meeting, the significance of peaceful development of cross-Strait relations, and the significance of the 1992 consensus for stabilizing and developing cross-Strait relations".

In the event of the DPP chairwoman winning the January election, 67 percent are in favor of a potential meeting between Tsai and her mainland Chinese counterpart.

A second poll of 1,330 people by a new group founded last month of bipartisan academics in Taiwan called the Justice Association found that 32.7 percent would vote for Tsai, while 21.1 backed Chu.

Meanwhile, 47 percent of those surveyed supported Ma's meeting with Xi, 20 percentage points higher than those against it.

The 80-second handshake between Xi and Ma was the first encounter between top leaders from the two sides since Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists fled across the Taiwan Strait in 1949.

"The Ma-Xi summit won't be a game-changer for Taiwan's election", said Mr Alexander Huang, a professor at Tamkang University's Graduate Institute of global Affairs and Strategic Studies in Taipei.

"That's the mainstream public opinion in Taiwan", Chiu said.

"The alliance reiterates that the "status quo" that we pledge to maintain is defined by the following: Taiwan is a sovereign and independent nation; No relationship of [sovereign] possession exists between Taiwan and China; Taiwan is free and democratic, and that the Taiwan Strait must remain peaceable and stable", he said.

Ma's attempts to forge closer ties with China, mostly on the economic and trade front, have been greeted with some suspicion in Taiwan, with student protesters previous year storming and occupying Taiwan's parliament for several weeks to demand the scrapping of a wide-ranging trade pact with China. The Communist Party on Monday announced a "grand" celebration next year to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen, a unifying figure respected by both sides.

The consensus reached between the two sides in November 1992 is that both sides of the Taiwan Strait insist on the "one China" principle, and each side can express its interpretation verbally; this is the "1992 Consensus" of "one China, respective interpretations". Under that framework, both sides have agreed they're part of China, even if they disagree what that means.

What Tsai hasn't done is state her stance on the one-China principle.

 

"It was not until Wednesday last week, when the media made the shocking revelation that Ma was going to Singapore to meet Xi on Saturday, that Ma was finally compelled to go public with the announcement", Wu said. After the meeting, Tsai criticized Ma for failing to emphasize the importance of democracy and for creating a "political framework limiting the choices of Taiwan people".

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