Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg
Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Behind the Scenes: Covering Ma's Meeting With Xi

The leaders of China and Taiwan on Nov. 7 held a carefully managed meeting that marks the first summit since the two sides clashed in a civil war seven decades ago, pledging warmer ties to go alongside their increasingly intertwined economies. More than 100 journalists traveled with Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou on a chartered flight operated by China Airlines Ltd. from Taipei to Singapore. Reporters, anchors, photographers and camera crew flew 6,800 kilometers in 24 hours to report on the handshake, meeting and dinner. Photographs by Tomohiro Ohsumi for Bloomberg

A taxi makes its way towards Taipei Songshan Airport early on Nov. 7. Participating journalists were required to report to the airport at 3 a.m.

In the warm humidity of the early morning, members of the media reported on a rally against Ma Ying-jeou that took place outside the airport.

Dozens of protesters called for the president to step down due to a lack of transparency in the arrangement of the meeting with Xi Jinping. 

A journalist takes a nap while waiting to board the chartered flight.

The chartered flight was an A330-300 aircraft operated by China Airlines Ltd. 

The in-flight entertainment screens displayed the Taiwanese flag.

The tete-a-tete between the two presidents, which comes before Ma leaves office in a few months, ensures the politically-divisive China issue remains at the center of Taiwan's January presidential election. 

Before he boarded his flight, Ma described cross-strait ties as being at their most stable in 66 years, noting Taiwan's next president would have the chance to further improve relations.

Presidential Office spokesman Charles Chen escorted Ma to greet members of the media.

Ma shook hands with journalists during their flight to Singapore. Speaking on the plane, he said he was "very excited" and feeling "very good."

For his "casual" dinner with the Chinese President, Ma brought with him several bottles of Taiwanese liquor made on offshore Kinmen island.

The flight was escorted through Taiwanese airspace by four Mirage 2000 fighter jets piloted by the Republic of China Air Force.

Members of the media wait outside a security inspection gate at the Shangri-La Hotel, the venue for the summit.

Ma and Xi shook hands for more than a minute before hundreds of reporters in Singapore. The first face-to-face encounter since 1945 between leaders of China's civil war foes provided a new high-water mark in efforts to resolve one of the last century's biggest unsettled conflicts.

An estimated 600 journalists from around the globe congregated in Singapore to cover the event.

A member of the media traveling with Ma Ying-jeou worked on a coach following the summit.

Ma said he found Xi to be "pragmatic and very straight-forward." He stressed the need to continue such dialogues and denied any attempt to build his own legacy at the expense of Taiwan's autonomy.