Vincent Siew in spotlight at Boao Forum for Asia

THAT’S WHAT XI SAID::At a luncheon yesterday, Vincent Siew was reportedly seated across from Chinese President Xi Jinping, who called Siew an ‘old friend’

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

Mon, Apr 08, 2013 - Page 1

Former vice president Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) yesterday was in the spotlight on the first day of this year’s Boao Forum for Asia, with a picture of him at the conference in 2007 gracing a hallway leading to the main conference hall.

The picture, part of a photographic exhibition held to showcase the Boao Forum, shows Siew shaking hands with Wu Bangguo (吳邦國), then-chairman of the Chinese National People’s Congress Standing Committee.

Every participant entering the main conference hall must pass by the display before going through a security check.

Siew is attending the forum for the first time since 2008 in his capacity as the honorary chairman of the Taipei-based Cross-Straits Common Market Foundation.

The theme of this year’s forum is “Asia Seeking Development for All: Restructuring, Responsibility and Cooperation.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) also met with Siew during a luncheon yesterday.

“We’re seeing each other again, old friend,” Xi said as he greeted the former vice president.

Sources said that Xi and Peng invited more than 40 guests from participating nations, making it the first welcome luncheon by the host of the forum.

Five participants from Taiwan were invited to the luncheon. Besides Siew and Chu, Cross-Strait Common Market Foundation adviser and former foreign minister Fredrick Chien (錢復) and his wife Tien Ling-ling (田玲玲) were in attendance, as well as former Straits Exchange Foundation chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤).

Sources said that Siew and his wife, Susan Chu (朱俶賢), were seated directly across the long table from Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan (彭麗媛).

“They were so close that they had no problem hearing each other when chatting,” the sources said.

During the luncheon, which lasted more than an hour, Siew also spoke with heads of states and representatives of non-governmental organizations.

This is “an experience we never had” at the Boao Forum, and the “highest level of reception,” sources cited Siew as saying.

Siew and Xi have known each other since 2006, when Xi, who was the then-Chinese Communist Party secretary-general in Zhejiang Province, met with Siew, who, as chairman of the Cross-Strait Common Market Foundation, took a delegation to visit the province.

Taiwan Affairs Office Director Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) also hosted a reception to welcome the Taiwanese delegation yesterday evening.

Siew and Xi are scheduled to hold talks at noon today, which are to focus on cross-strait economic, trade and industrial cooperation.

Siew is to speak about the meeting at a press conference in the afternoon, sources said, adding that “good news” should be expected.