Taiwanese officials had a rare face-to-face meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping while attending an Asian economic forum last week.
Morris Chang, Taiwan’s envoy to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, said he had a “pleasant” interaction with the Chinese leader. Chang, the founder of Taiwanese chip giant TSMC, discussed the meeting on Friday upon his return to Taipei on Monday, Reuters reported.
“Certainly, the presidential office had told me that if there was an opportunity, there was no need to avoid a meeting or a greeting. That was the only instruction,” Chang said.
He added that he had congratulated Xi on his re-election at the 20th Chinese Communist Party Congress, cementing his authority.
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China halted formal interactions with Taiwan following the election of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016, but APEC’s annual forum remains one of the few instances where the two governments interact, even briefly, according to Reuters.
Taiwan broke away from mainland China in 1949 after democratic forces lost a civil war against the Chinese Communist Party and fled to the island. China has long pushed for reunification and threatened to do it by force. The Beijing government views Tsai as a separatist seeking Taiwan independence.
The brief interaction in APEC comes after China conducted weeks of military operations around Taiwan in an apparent simulation of an invasion.
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China’s escalation came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island in early August. Her trip was part of a series of visits to the island by US lawmakers, outraging China.
Beijing argues that the trips violate the US One China policy, which states that the United States recognizes Beijing as China’s sole government and will not maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
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The United States has adopted a policy of “strategic ambiguity” with respect to Taiwan. President Biden has declared four times as president that the US would intervene if China invaded the island, but White House officials have retracted the statement each time.
Biden stressed that there was no change in US policy in his face-to-face meeting with Xi last week.