No need to avoid Xi at APEC, Taiwan envoy says after rare encounter


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SmartNews

TAIPEI, Nov 21 (Reuters) – Taiwan told its representative there was no need to avoid Chinese President Xi Jinping at the APEC summit in Thailand, the envoy said on Monday, leading to a rare encounter at a time when China has been stepping up military pressure.

The grouping of 21 nations is one of the few international organisations that Taiwan is a member of, since Beijing, which views the island as a Chinese province and not a country, blocks its participation at most others.

Tension between Taipei and Beijing has risen since China staged war games near the democratically-governed island in August after a visit by Nancy Pelosi, then speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Certainly, the presidential office had said to me if there was an opportunity there was no need to avoid a meeting or a greeting. That was the only instruction,” Morris Chang told reporters in Taipei on his return from Bangkok.

He said he had talked to Xi on Friday in what he called a pleasant encounter, in which he congratulated Xi on the 20th Congress of China’s ruling Communist Party last month.

Chang, who is also the founder of Taiwan chip giant TSMC (2330.TW), , said his interaction with Xi and the congratulations were his own idea and he was offering his “own opinion”.

President Tsai Ing-wen “respected” the fact Chang had spoken to Xi, said Hsu Szu-chien, deputy head of Taiwan’s National Security Council, who sat beside Chang at the news conference.

Hsu did not elaborate, however, and Tsai did not attend the event, though she did walk Chang to the room in the presidential office where it took place.

China has not commented on Chang’s chat with Xi.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) grouping has traditionally been one of the few forums where China and Taiwan talk, even if just in passing to exchange pleasantries.

China cut off a formal talks mechanism when Tsai first won office in 2016, believing her to be a separatist, which she denies.

Read more – SmartNews

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