China’s call on APEC meet
During last year’s APEC summit in Indonesia, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) expressed his willingness to engage Taiwan in political dialogue.
Political issues should not be left to the next generation to resolve, Xi said.
Although the idea of such an unprecedented meeting taking place between the two nation’s leaders remains rather optimistic, champions of the meeting have not given up trying.
APEC was founded in 1989. It currently has 21 members — not all of them sovereign nations. All the APEC heads of state attend the leaders’ meeting under the title of economic leader. Taiwan has been a member since 1991, going by the name “Chinese Taipei,” but Taiwan’s leaders are barred from APEC summits due to objections from China, which claims sovereignty over the nation. To avoid political complications, Taiwan is traditionally represented by a retired politician rather than a sitting president.
APEC was designed for economic leaders to meet without using their official titles, and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) reiterated his hope to meet with Xi at next month’s APEC meeting, saying that it would be a convenient venue to sidestep the thorny issues of non-recognition between the two sides. Thus, Taipei [was] still trying to persuade Beijing to agree to a historic meeting between the top leaders this year.
It is generally believed that a Ma-Xi meeting would be more symbolic than substantial. However, if it happens, it would be a great achievement in itself. If Beijing were willing to signal to 23 million people in Taiwan that it is willing to take on the cross-strait issue, the best way to do so would be to agree to the meeting.
The meeting is scheduled for Nov. 10 and 11 in Beijing and the ball is in China’s court. While maintaining its principles, Beijing should be strategically flexible and creative in a bid to help sustain peace across the Taiwan Strait.
Can Ma and Xi meet? Can Beijing maintain firmness in principle, without forgetting the need for flexibility, creative thinking and groundbreaking approaches? It all depends on Xi.
If Beijing passes up this rare opportunity to hold a landmark meeting, any regret will be too late.
Potomac Falls, Virginia
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