Taiwan President to Push China for 'Expanded International Space'
Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou says he will use Saturday's historic meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping to press for Beijing to relax its rules on Taiwan's diplomatic relations with other countries.
The two leaders are meeting in Singapore for the first talks between Chinese and Taiwanese leaders since the island territory split with the mainland in 1949 during the Chinese civil war. The meeting was only announced on Wednesday, though Ma told reporters it has been in the works for months.
He said Thursday that he hopes the meeting sets a precedent for future talks between Beijing and Taipei.
Ma said he plans to use the meeting to raise the issue of Taiwan's difficulty participating in international events because China prevents other nations from establishing diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
Ma said he hopes to push for Taiwan to have "expanded international space."
He said he does not plan to bring up China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.
The Taiwanese president also said the upcoming meeting is not intended to further the interests of his political party as January elections approach.
US Defense Chief Visits Warship in South China Sea
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter is visiting a U.S. aircraft carrier in the South China Sea Thursday, as tensions grow with China over Beijing's maritime expansion in the region.
Carter is traveling with his Malaysian counterpart, Hishammuddin Hussein. The two will board the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt as it sails the South China Sea off the coast of Malaysia.
The brief cruise by Carter and Hussein takes place days after a U.S. guided missile destroyer sailed within 22 kilometers of the Subi Reef in the Spratly Island archipelago. Beijing launched a massive building project last year to transform the submerged reefs into islands that can support runways and other facilities, ignoring competing claims to the outcroppings by the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and other Asian nations.
The Obama administration says the warship's passage was a routine exercise aimed at protecting the open navigation of the seas.
The dispute overshadowed Wednesday's meeting in Kuala Lumpur of ASEAN defense ministers, plus Carter and his counterparts from China, Australia, India and Japan. The ministers failed to issue a traditional joint statement at the end of the forum, after China lobbied to block any mention of the contentious South China Sea.
China's Defense Ministry said it regretted a joint declaration was not issued, and accused "certain countries" outside of Southeast Asia of being responsible for the cancellation of a statement.