Premier continues to push for Ma-Xi meeting at APEC summit - Focus Taiwan

Premier continues to push for Ma-Xi meeting at APEC summit

Taipei, July 24 (CNA) Premier Jiang Yi-huah is still trying to persuade China to agree to an unprecedented meeting between the top leaders of Taiwan and China at this year's Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing, he told BBC Chinese in an interview this week.

In the interview, published Thursday, Jiang explained that Taiwan proposed such a meeting between its President Ma Ying-jeou and China's President Xi Jinping because APEC members are not countries but rather "economic entities."

The Ma administration has indicated several times that it would be a convenient venue for sidestepping the thorny issues of non-recognition between the two sides.

Jiang clarified that the suggestion is not intended to "internationalize" cross-strait relations, which neither Taipei nor Beijing consider to be state-to-state relations.

Though China has been cool to the idea, Jiang told the BBC that it would be a pity if the meeting fell through because of "conventional thinking" on the part of some Chinese officials, adding that Taiwan remains hopeful since no formal conclusion has been reached.

The two sides are still in consultation on the matter, according to Jiang.

The 2014 APEC Leaders' Meeting is scheduled for Nov. 10-11 in the Chinese capital.

Meanwhile, Jiang stressed that Taiwan will always insist on developing cross-strait relations based on principles of addressing easier economic issues first and more difficult political ones later.

The two sides have worked to gradually institutionalize an intergovernmental communication mechanism following several meetings between Wang Yu-chi, the head of Mainland Affairs Council of Taiwan, and Zhang Zhijun, the director of Taiwan Affairs Office of China, earlier this year.

The next step, Jiang said, will be setting up liaison offices on each side.

The premier also expressed hope for a quick passage of the cross-strait trade-in-services agreement in Taiwan's Legislative Yuan, though he added there is no timetable for the agreement's ratification, and China has not pressured Taiwan to force it forward even a year after it was signed by negotiators from the two sides.

Jiang recounted how the services pact was signed in June 2013 but remains stalled in the Legislature today, blaming the delay for compromising Taiwan's competitive edge against other countries, particularly South Korea. He was referring to the bilateral trade agreement in the works between Beijing and Seoul, which would threaten to undercut Taiwan's exports to its massive neighbor.

Jiang further said that if Taiwan's economic vitality continues to decline due to its slow liberalization, it could reduce Taiwan's bargaining chips on the political negotiation table with China.

(By Hsieh Chia-chen and Evelyn Kao)


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