Soong-Xi meet touches on cross-Taiwan Strait business exchanges

Taiwan's representative to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit, James Soong (???), has met with Chinese President Xi Jinping (???), to whom he expressed hope for continued trade and economic exchanges between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, an adviser on Taiwan's APEC delegation said Saturday.

The meeting occurred without pre-arrangement, Lee Hung-chun (???) told the press. He said Soong and Xi interacted with each other in "a natural and friendly atmosphere" before they participated in dialogue between APEC economic leaders and the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) earlier in the day.

The content of the conversation between Soong and Xi was mainly greetings until Soong brought up his hope for the Chinese authorities to "keep unchanged the direction of cross-strait trade and economic exchanges" and "particularly of care for Taiwanese small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)," Lee said.

He noted that this was mutually accepted and that the two agreed upon its publication.

The two sides agreed to release a statement of the meeting, which lasted for more than 10 minutes, Lee added.

Asked if President Tsai Ing-wen (???) knew about the meeting, Lee said it happened informally. "As a matter of course we will report the matter to the president on Nov. 24," he said.

Soong's meeting with Xi on the APEC occasion had been highly anticipated in Taiwan after the People First Party (PFP) chairman was appointed by Tsai to attend the 2016 APEC summit on her behalf.

Soong and Eric Chu (???) of the Kuomintang were beaten by Tsai of the Democratic Progressive Party in the presidential election in January. Since Tsai assumed office, however, cross-strait dialogue has been suspended due to her reluctance to recognize the "1992 consensus," which Beijing regards as the political foundation for the development of cross-strait exchanges.

Before Saturday's ABAC meeting began, Soong also greeted and shook hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Lee, a PFP lawmaker.

Apart from Xi and Putin, the presidential envoy met and conversed with leaders of other countries, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, Australia, Chile, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea, Lee added.

Lee said here on Thursday that the main goals of Soong's attendance at this year's APEC summit are to help Taiwan's SMEs connect with business partners around the world, develop and deepen economic and trade relations with the 20 other members of APEC, and highlight Taiwan's economic momentum.

Even though Taiwan has been a member of the forum encompassing 21 Pacific Rim economies, its president has not been able to attend the summit because of China's objection. Beijing sees Taiwan as part of China, to be united by force if necessary.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel