Giant on the move
When Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou was elected ruling Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman in July, pundits jumped on the idea that he would use his new title to help secure a meeting with China’s President Hu Jintao. The first-of-a-kind summit would follow six decades of strained relations including China’s threats of military force against the island.
Ma’s new job, which he will take in mid-October, allows him to meet Communist Party Chairman Hu in a party-to-party role, laying aside each side’s presidential title. China does not recognise Taiwan’s presidency or other government institutions as it claims sovereignty over the self-ruled island.
Beijing’s state-run China Daily newspaper said such a meeting would signal “great reconciliation.”
A meeting would best take place in 2012, according to a KMT spokesman, Lee Chien-jung.
I first visited China in June 1997. It was eight years after the Tiananmen crackdown, weeks before the Hong Kong Handover back to China marking the end of British rule, and over a decade before the 2008 Summer Olympics. It was a family trip — my parents were looking forward to a college reunion with classmates they hadn’t seen in decades and I had just finished my second year of university. I was looking forward to finally seeing the place I’d heard so much about.
Born and raised in Canada, I grew up listening to stories of the past — lessons in history, humanity, tragedy and survival. And like many children of immigrant families, there is a constant search for a balance and a place between the different worlds that shape our identity.
I’ve been a China watcher for much longer than I’ve been a journalist — Chinese language, literature, history and politics were my passions and the objects of my academic study before I ever found my vocation. And for a watcher of modern Chinese politics, few texts in my 30 years in the field have been as important as the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party.
With a circulation of three to four million, it is one of the world’s biggest papers; with its direct ties to the top Party leaders, it has long been the way official policy shifts have been announced or hinted at.