By MISTA MISTA
(SINGAPORE) – An historic meeting between Chinese president Xi Jinping and Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou at a Singapore restaurant concluded with only a small skirmish over would foot the bill, aides said.
The meal marks the first time that rival leaders from the two countries have knocked chopsticks since Ma’s Kuomintang party fled Communist China to Taiwan in 1949. Both sides continue to acknowledge that cuisine is a central part of Chinese culture, but disagree about what this means.
The two greeted one another with bourgeois pleasantries, including an “agreeable” discussion about the restaurant’s decor, aides reported. After seeing the menu, Ma and Xi agreed that they’d heard the pan-fried goose livers with truffle were “good at this place,” but carefully avoided saying anything that might concede sovereignty over the dish. Eventually, it was agreed they should just get a few things “for the table.”
The 88-course banquet was punctuated by several lengthy interludes of mutual toasting, to which both sides brought a representative selection of traditional high-strength liquor. Holding aloft a goblet of Moutai, President Xi formally declared that, “Taiwan is like a little brother, and I love to hold my little brother.” Ma acknowledged, replying, “The ties between us are thicker than even the fattest envelope of cash.”
On his return from the bathroom, however, Ma found a red-faced Xi attempting to pick up the tab, and a minor argument erupted. “China always pays – ask everyone!” Xi loudly insisted, as Ma pulled Xi’s tie and the pair exchanged light shoves in front of a complacent waiter.
Following a tense exchange of cigarettes, though, the pair agreed to observe a carefully worded ‘two bill’ agreement, after which Xi remarked he was feeling a little bloated and was heading back to the hotel.