You are here

Protests in Taiwan as Ma leaves for meet with Xi

Taiwanese protesters shout slogans and hold banners against Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou and Chinese President Xi Jinping meeting in Singapore, outside Songshan Airport in Taipei, Taiwan on Nov 07, 2015.

[TAIPEI] Angry protesters tried to storm parliament in Taiwan overnight Saturday as the island's leader Ma Ying-jeou left for a historic summit in Singapore with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The meeting will be the first between leaders of the two sides since their 1949 split following a civil war won by the Chinese Communists.

Mr Xi and Ma will shake hands at a luxury hotel in Singapore around 3:00 pm before holding talks behind closed doors for an hour.

It is a deeply symbolic seal on a dramatic seven-year rapprochement under Mr Ma following decades of hostility, but has provoked a backlash in Taiwan.

Closer ties with China have sparked fears over Beijing's growing influence with Mr Ma's opponents accusing him of selling out Taiwan by attending the summit.

Overnight around 100 protesters tried to storm the heavily-guarded parliament building in Taipei carrying "Taiwan independence" banners, but were stopped by police. There were no arrests.

A dozen were still staging a sit-in outside parliament early Saturday morning.

Protesters also gathered at Taipei's Songshan airport where Mr Ma gave a brief address to reporters before boarding his flight Saturday morning.

Police said some protesters were arrested but could not immediately give numbers.

A small group of Ma supporters were also at the airport.

"The purpose of the meeting is to recount the past, look forward to the future and, through the meeting, reinforce peace across the strait and maintain (the) status quo," Mr Ma told reporters before he left.

He added the summit would be a "new platform" for any future president of Taiwan to continue to develop cross-strait relations.