China and Taiwan have held historic talks in Singapore – their first in more than 60 years.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou shook hands at the start of the talks, which were seen as largely symbolic.
China views Taiwan as a breakaway province which will one day be reunited with the mainland.
However, many Taiwanese see it as independent and are concerned at China’s growing influence.
“Both sides should respect each other’s values and way of life,” Ma Ying-jeou said as the talks began at a luxury hotel.
Xi Jinping told the Taiwanese leader: “We are one family.”
“The meeting between the leaders across the Taiwan Strait has opened a historic chapter in the cross-Strait relations, and history will remember today,” he added.
The meeting took place in neutral territory on the sidelines of a state visit by Xi Jinping to Singapore.
Relations between China and Taiwan have improved under Ma Ying-jeou since he took office in 2008, with better economic ties, improving tourism links, and a trade pact signed.
The two sides split in 1949 when the Kuomintang lost to the Chinese Communist Party in the civil war and set up a new government in Taiwan.
Ma Ying-jeou described the talks as “positive and friendly”, but no major agreements or deals appear to have been reached.
He said in advance that the issue of the South China Sea disputes, which has dominated recent concerns in the region, would not be brought up.
Xi Jinping raised the issue in a speech at the National University of Singapore before the meeting, saying China has always hoped to settle the disputes peacefully.
Ma Ying-jeou proposed reducing hostility across the Taiwan Strait, expanding exchanges and establishing a cross-strait hotline, according to Taiwan’s central news agency.
He said this was part of consolidating the “1992 consensus” – the agreement under which both sides recognize the principle of “one China” but define it in their own ways.
Similar remarks were made by Xi Jinping, who said upholding the consensus would help “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”.
In Taipei there were protests before the talks and one group tried to enter the Taiwanese parliament building.
AFP said there were arrests at Taipei’s Songshan airport as Ma Ying-jeou left early on November 7, where opponents of closer ties between Taiwan and China tried to set fire to images of the two leaders.
A small group supporting Ma Ying-jeou also turned up at the airport.
State media in China have heralded the meeting, though Taiwan has had a more divided reaction where opposition parties and activists have called for Ma Ying-jeou to back out.
Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party has ditched Hung Hsiu-chu as its candidate for the island’s presidential election in January 2016.
At an emergency congress, party members voted overwhelmingly to drop Hung Hsiu-chu following a series of poor ratings in opinion polls.
Hung Hsiu-chu will be replaced by the KMT’s chairman, Eric Chu.
Before the decision, the two favorites for the presidential poll were, for the first time, both women.
Hung Hsiu-chu, the deputy parliament speaker, was the KMT’s first female candidate. The opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate is Tsai Ing-wen, who lost in the presidential race in 2012.
Taiwan has never had a female president.
Hung Hsiu-chu’s approval ratings were lagging far behind those of Tsai Ing-wen – partly because she had lost support by advocating stronger ties with China at a time when some Taiwanese voters are wary about the island becoming too close to Beijing.
Eric Chu, the mayor of suburban New Taipei City who is considered a moderate on China, has more experience in governing, leading many party members to hope he will stand a better chance against Tsai Ing-wen, despite his late entry in the race.
The KMT suffered a crushing defeat in local elections in 2014.
Taiwan’s outgoing President Ma Ying-jeou resigned as party chairman after the poll, which was widely seen as a rejection of his push for close ties with Beijing.
Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng has arrived in Taiwan for an 18-day trip that is likely to anger Beijing.
Blind dissident Chen Guangcheng, who arrived on Sunday, is expected to meet opposition lawmakers and discuss human rights in China.
The self-taught lawyer, who is blind, sparked a diplomatic row last year when he escaped house arrest and sought refuge in the US embassy in Beijing.
Chen Guangcheng was eventually allowed to travel to the US to pursue further studies.
China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, although the island has been separately governed since 1949.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Chen Guangcheng thanked the Taiwanese public for their concern and support.
Chen Guangcheng has arrived in Taiwan for an 18-day trip that is likely to anger Beijing
“I am impressed by the success of Taiwan’s democracy. Taiwan should be proud of it,” he said, adding that democracy was “an important treasure”.
Chen Guangcheng is scheduled to speak in parliament and meet members of the opposition and human rights groups.
His visit is being hosted by the Association for China Human Rights, which has described it as “a trip for freedom and human rights”.
The group is linked to Taiwan’s political opposition. Chaperoning Chen Guangcheng will be many Taiwan democracy activists and individuals who have criticized China in the past.
According to AP news agency, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou is not scheduled to meet Chen Guangcheng. Ma Ying-jeou has made improving the island’s ties with China one of his key policies.
Chen Guangcheng has been a fellow at New York University (NYU) since mid-2012. He is due to leave the university this month.
The self-taught lawyer, who had campaigned against forced abortions under China’s one-child policy, has linked his departure to “unrelenting pressure” on NYU from Beijing – something NYU roundly denies.
NYU says Chen Guangcheng’s fellowship had always been expected to last a year at most, and that he is in discussions with two other institutions about potential opportunities.
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