TAIPEI, October 1, 2013 Taiwan’s special envoy to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum said Tuesday he plans to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping at the event to discuss economic issues.
The scheduled meeting between Vincent Siew, the island’s former vice president, and the Chinese leader comes amid warming ties between the two former cross-strait rivals.
“The meeting will not last long. We’ll focus on bilateral economic and trade issues as well as the growing trend of regional economic integration,” Siew told reporters.
He said he would not deliver any special message to Xi from Taiwanese President Ma Ying jeou, and discussions would not touch on “things in the future”.
The APEC summit will be held in the Indonesian resort island of Bali from October 7-8.
The first such China Taiwan meeting at the APEC forum was in 2008 when tensions started thawing.
Taiwan’s leaders are barred from APEC summits due to objections from China, which claims sovereignty over the island, and are represented instead by senior economic advisers or business leaders.
China still considers Taiwan part of its territory even though the two sides split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.
But ties have improved markedly since Ma of the China friendly Kuomintang party took power in 2008 on a platform of promoting trade and reconciliation with the mainland.
Ma was re elected in January 2012.
In June 2010 Taiwan and China signed the landmark Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, a pact widely seen as the boldest step yet towards reconciliation.
They forged a follow-up agreement in June, under which China will open 80 of its service sectors to Taiwanese companies, while Taiwan will allow Chinese investment in 64 sectors.
The latest agreement is awaiting the approval of Taiwan’s parliament. Critics fear it will hurt smaller service companies and cost many Taiwanese their jobs.
Taiwan has been a major investor in China in recent years, providing more than $100 billion in financing according to some estimates, as well as technological know how.