China does not deem it appropriate for the leaders on each side of the Taiwan Strait to meet at the APEC forum later this year, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) yesterday in Taipei cited his Chinese counterpart as saying.
During an unofficial meeting on Thursday with China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) in Shanghai, no consensus was reached on an appropriate setting for a meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), Wang said.
Zhang was the first to mention the possibility of a Ma-Xi meeting, but declined to accept Taiwan’s suggestion that the two leaders could meet at the APEC forum, Wang said.
“We don’t have any other solutions at present,” Wang said at a press conference in Taipei after returning from a four-day trip to Nanjing and Shanghai, the first-ever visit to China by the top official responsible for Taiwan’s relations with China in an official capacity.
Zhang did not propose any other solutions, Wang said, adding that the two sides did not dwell on the issue, but simply stated their respective positions.
According to an MAC official who was among the dozens of people attending the gathering at Shanghai’s Peace Hotel, Taipei’s position is to hold such a meeting in an appropriate setting and under appropriate conditions, and that the two leaders should also meet in their appropriate capacities.
The APEC forum’s annual top-level meeting would provide an appropriate setting, added the official, who declined to be named.
The next APEC leaders’ summit is scheduled to be held in Beijing in October this year.
Because of China’s objections, Taiwan’s president has been kept away from the annual APEC summit and has had to send an economic official or a retired politician on his behalf.
During the meeting on Thursday, which lasted more than two hours, Zhang referred to Ma as “Mr Ma” and “your leader,” according to Wang, who stressed that he himself referred to Ma only as “the president” during their talks.
Wang yesterday said that a planned regular communication mechanism between top officials in charge of cross-strait affairs will ensure that talks between Taiwan and China will be conducted in a reciprocal and direct manner.
“Cross-strait officials at equal levels of authority can make telephone calls between each other directly to discuss matters under their charge,” he said.
During the historic meeting on Tuesday in Nanjing, where he and Zhang held the first-ever formal meeting of the two sides’ top officials responsible for the bilateral relationship, Wang and Zhang agreed to ensure the establishment of a regular communication mechanism to facilitate quick and efficient communication between the two sides.
Until this week, the governments on the two sides of the Strait have conducted talks through Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), both of which are semi-official bodies.
Communication between the MAC and TAO has actually existed for about six months, Wang said, explaining that the consensus he reached with Zhang was an institutionalization of this practice.
Wang said earlier that their links will not interfere with the channel established between the SEF and ARATS, but will actually complement them.