07/11/2015 8:55 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

Presidents Of China And Taiwan Exchange Historic Handshake

Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, right, smile as they enter the room at the Shangri-la Hotel where they met on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, in Singapore. The two leaders shook hands at the start of a historic meeting marking the first top level contact between the formerly bitter Cold War foes since they split amid civil war 66 years ago. (AP Photo/Joseph Nair, pool)

The first summit between leaders of China and Taiwan since the 1949 civil war split has resulted in a historic handshake, with China's Xi Jinping and Taiwan's Ma Ying-jeou staging landmark talks at a hotel in Singapore on Saturday.

Though the two sides still refuse to formally recognise each other's legitimacy, Xi and Ma posed for photographs from assembled media in Singapore.

It was there that Xi said the two sides were "one family".

The previous occasion their respective leaders physically met was in 1945 -- four years before the 1949 split -- when Communist revolutionary leader Mao Zedong met with China's nationalist President Chiang Kai-shek, though reconciliation was unsuccessful.

Chiang's armies and two million followers were forced to flee Taiwan in the aftermath of the Communist takeover, causing the 1949 civil war split that has remained.

Though no immediate results are expected of the meeting, the attitudes of the two leaders was positive.

"No force can pull us apart," Xi told Ma. "We are one family."

"Both sides should respect each other's values and way of life."