Taiwan opposition says only democracy can decide future
China President Xi Jinping and Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou - REUTERS

TAIPEI/BEIJING: Only the people of Taiwan can decide its future and will do so in elections in January, the island’s opposition leader and presidential frontrunner said on Sunday, as China’s top newspaper warned peace was at risk if it opted for independence.

A day after Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou held historic talks in Singapore, Tsai Ing-wen, leader of Taiwan’s independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said the leaders’ meeting had done nothing to make Taiwan’s people feel safer.

“Only the majority public opinion on Jan. 16 can decide Taiwan’s future and cross-strait relations,” Tsai wrote, referring to ties with the mainland.

At the meeting in neutral Singapore, the first get-together of leaders of the two sides since China’s civil war ended in 1949, Xi told Ma they must not let proponents of Taiwan’s independence split them.

Ma in return called for mutual respect for each other’s systems and said Taiwan people were concerned about mainland missiles pointing their way.

Tsai said Ma’s performance had angered many people in Taiwan, and what he did was not a representation of mainstream public opinion.

“As a nation’s leader, President Ma did not make his people proud or feel safe. Instead, he created more anxiety,” she wrote.

China’s Nationalists, also known as the Kuomintang (KMT), retreated to Taiwan after losing the civil war to the Communists, who are still in charge in Beijing. Both agree there is “one China” but agree to disagree on the interpretation.

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