The leaders of China and Taiwan met Saturday for the first time since the formerly bitter Cold War foes split amid civil war 66 years ago, and though no concrete agreement resulted, both hailed the meeting as a sign of a new stability in relations. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou came together on neutral ground in Singapore, walking toward each other in a hotel ballroom in front of a backdrop of yellow—a traditional color of Chinese emperors. The two men smiled broadly as they shook hands for more than one minute. In brief opening remarks in front of reporters before going into a closed-door meeting, Xi said, "History will record this day."
Xi alluded to China's long-cherished goals of unification with Taiwan, saying, "We are one family," and "No force can pull us apart." Ma said, "Both sides should respect each other's values and way of life," while adding that relations between the sides were "the most peaceful and stable they have ever been." At a post-meeting news conference, Ma said he discussed the Taiwanese people's desire for greater participation in multinational organizations, which pressure from Beijing has prevented. "We are here today so that the tragedies in our history cannot be replayed," a spokesman quoted Xi as saying at the meeting. The spokesman said that China understands Taiwan's desire for greater international space, but that Beijing cannot agree to moves that would "split the country." (Read more China stories.)