The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday defended the possibility of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) at next year’s APEC meeting in Beijing, insisting that such a meeting would only be held if supported by Taiwanese and if national dignity can be maintained.
“It is President Ma’s persistent stance that a meeting between leaders from the two sides of the Taiwan Strait must be held when we have such a need, with the support of the people and with reciprocal dignity,” KMT spokesman Yang Wei-chung (楊偉中) said.
Ma said in an interview published in the Hong Kong-based magazine Yazhou Zhoukan on Wednesday that he expects to attend the APEC meeting as the leader of an “economic entity,” rather than as the nation’s president or KMT chairman, adding that he would be willing to meet with Xi during the economic summit in Beijing.
“[The two sides of the Taiwan Strait] need to create some conditions for such a meeting. We are still in the process of creating these conditions,” he said.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) has ruled out the possibility of a Ma-Xi meeting at the APEC summit when asked to comment on the issue, he added.
Ma in the interview declined to confirm whether he is seeking to define his historical status through a meeting with Xi, and said such a meeting would only happen when the nation is in need and with the public’s support.
While Xi has been putting pressure on the Ma administration for cross-strait political negotiations, Ma said the government would not avoid political talks with China, but the time is not ripe for such talks.
Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Wang Yu-chi’s (王郁琦) meeting with TAO Director Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) in October on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Indonesia was seen as a move to pave the way for a meeting between Ma and Xi.
The first official meeting between Wang and Zhang, which is to be held after the Lunar New Year holidays in February, also drew attention to the cross-strait agenda to be addressed during the meeting.
Wang on Wednesday said a meeting between the national leaders of the two sides should be held at an appropriate time and venue. When reporting to the KMT Central Standing Committee the prospects for cross-strait relations in the wake of the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th congress, he said the MAC would continue to strive for Ma to attend the APEC meeting as the leader of an economic entity.
Wang later denied in a press release that he suggested the council would push for Ma to visit China, and that next year’s APEC summit in Beijing provides an appropriate venue for Ma to meet with Xi.
In the interview, Ma also reiterated his calls for the legislature to facilitate the review process of the cross-strait service trade agreement and said it would be impossible for the government to renegotiate the pact with China.
“It’s impossible to start a new negotiation on the agreement. There have been no such cases in the world and mainland China will not accept it either,” he said.
Ma also rejected the argument that the US and South Korea had renegotiated their free-trade agreement, saying that the renegotiation was held because it was proposed by the US to further open its markets.