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United Daily News: Moving from Seattle to Beijing
Central News Agency
2014-02-17 12:28 PM
The possibility of a cross-Taiwan Strait presidential summit was raised during talks between Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi and his Chinese counterpart, Zhang Zhijun, head of the Taiwan Affairs Office, in Beijing last week. According to Wang, there is "not a high probability" of President Ma Ying-jeou meeting China's President Xi Jinping at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Beijing later this year, and no other solutions are available at present. On the issue of Taiwan's representation at APEC, the Chinese side has always referred to a 1991 memorandum of understanding on the APEC membership of China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, which stated that Taiwan can only send economic ministers to the forum. At that time, APEC was mainly a forum for ministerial-level officials. APEC's first informal leaders' summit was held in Seattle in 1993, following a proposal by then U.S. President Bill Clinton. Taiwan's leader was excluded from the event because Beijing pushed the United States not to invite Taiwan. Every year since then, Beijing has pressured the APEC host country not to invite Taiwan's leader, based on the so-called "Seattle model." In other words, the 1991 MOU did not address the issue of Taiwan's representation at the APEC summit. Taiwan's exclusion has been the result of international political reality and an over-interpretation of the MOU by Beijing. The "Seattle model," however, has been eased due to improved cross-strait relations since Ma became president in 2008. Taiwan has been able to send a former vice president, instead of a minister, to the APEC summit over the past few years. This development demonstrates that as long as Taipei and Beijing can work out a mutually acceptable way of dealing with each other, the burden of the 1991 MOU and the "Seattle model" can be readily removed. The possibility of a Ma-Xi summit lies in developing a cross-strait political vision to override the "Seattle model" and create a "Beijing model." To achieve that goal, both sides will need to apply greater wisdom and imagination and show their determination to overcome barriers. (Editorial abstract -- Feb. 17, 2014) (By Y.F. Low)
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