President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) envoy to APEC, former vice president Lien Chan (連戰), is expected to meet with US President George W. Bush at the annual meeting underway in Lima, Peru, a top US official said on Friday.
But how the two will meet was left unsaid as Dennis Wilder, the senior Asian director for Bush’s National Security Council, mentioned the possible meeting during a briefing for the US press aboard Air Force One en route to the meeting.
His comment came just one day after Taiwan lodged a protest with Peruvian authorities over Taiwan’s exclusion from an informal meeting of APEC foreign ministers held on Wednesday.
Taiwan was excluded along with Hong Kong, which became part of China in 1997.
Wilder made his comments as part of a long statement praising Bush’s accomplishments in Asia during his eight-year presidency, apparently linking Bush’s policy with an easing of tensions between Taiwan and China.
“The president will have an opportunity to meet with former vice president Lien Chan during the sessions of APEC,” Wilder said. “And [Bush is] interested to hear from both the Chinese side and the Taiwan side not only about what’s been accomplished so far, but that they’re going to accomplish in the future in terms of adding to peace and stability on the Taiwan Strait.”
Lien’s attendance at the APEC meeting is itself a reflection of Bush’s policy, Wilder said while ticking off Bush’s accomplishments.
“At this APEC you will see a former vice president of Taiwan representing Taiwan at this Asian economies meeting. Eight years ago, that would have been unthinkable,” he said.
“Eight years ago, the United States and China were at odds over Taiwan and how to deal with the Taiwan issue. There were great strains caused by this issue in the US-China relationship,” he said.
“Working very closely with [Chinese] President Hu [Jintao (胡錦濤)], working with the officials on Taiwan, you have seen in the last few months a huge reduction in the tensions along the Taiwan Strait,” he said, citing specifically the recent visit to Taiwan by Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin (陳雲林).
“And at this conference, you will see a former vice president of Taiwan sit down at international meetings with world leaders. This is a real opening and a real change and a real reduction in tensions,” he said.
Wilder also praised Bush’s personal style as a reason for a relaxation in cross-Strait tensions.
Hu had a “great deal of confidence and faith in the [US] president, in part because the president was very honest and candid with him on where we were on Taiwan, but also kept his promises in relation to Taiwan that we would not support independence in Taiwan, that we would not support provocative steps on Taiwan, but also, that we weren’t going to let Beijing bully Taiwan,” Wilder said.
“And I think the fact that the president was able to walk that line with the Chinese and maintain a very productive relationship shows the skills, really the diplomatic skills that the president brought to that relationship,” Wilder said.
Meanwhile, the US State Department this week gave a hint on how it would treat the Taiwan delegation to the 2011 APEC annual meeting, which it will host.
In a notice in the Nov. 19 Federal Register, a compendium of official US government announcements, the department invited cities and major resorts to submit proposals to hold events at the meeting.