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MAC, TAO heads will not discuss cross-strait leaders' meeting: official

TAIPEI--The possibility of a meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping (習近平) will not be on the agenda of the two top officials in charge of cross-strait affairs when they meet next February, a senior Taiwanese official said Thursday.

Wu Mei-hung (吳美紅), vice chairperson of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), said both sides are still proposing the topics for discussion by MAC Chairman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) and the head of Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Zhang Zhijun (張志軍).

It is clear, however, that Wang and Zhang will not talk about the possibility of a meeting between Ma and Xi, Wu said at a regular press briefing.

The Taiwan government had been hoping that Ma would be able to attend the leaders' summit at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum for the first time next year, and there were speculations that he might meet with Xi at the forum in China.

But China has not been very receptive to the idea of Ma's attendance, although Taiwan is a full member of APEC, under the name Chinese Taipei.

“The government has been working on Ma's participation in the APEC forum in his capacity as the leader of an economic entity,” Wu said.

In a meeting with Chinese officials during this year's APEC summit in Indonesia, former Vice President Vincent Siew had broached the idea of Ma's participation in the next APEC meeting as leader of an “economic entity,” according to Wu.

“But the Chinese response was lukewarm,” she said, adding that “we will keep talking with them through the TAO channel over this matter.”

The Taiwan government, however, is not making any “concrete” plans for a meeting between the two top leaders of Taiwan and China, Wu said.

Such a meeting has not taken place since the government of the Republic of China relocated from the mainland to Taiwan in 1949.

Wang told the ruling Kuomintang's Central Standing Committee Wednesday that if the top leaders of Taiwan and China were to meet, it would have to be at an appropriate time and with the use of appropriate titles.

This means that Ma would meet Xi as president of the Republic of China, Wang said, adding that the APEC summit in China would be the “right” occasion for such a meeting.

Under the terms of Taiwan's APEC membership, five of its top officials are barred from attending the annual meetings, but as an economic entity, “Chinese Taipei” has been trying to make a breakthrough on this issue. The top Taiwan officials are its president, vice president, premier, vice premier, and minister of foreign affairs.

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