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Taiwan considers APEC as venue for cross-strait leaders meeting

Taipei, Dec. 30 (CNA) The 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economic leaders' set for Beijing would be a good setting for a meeting between the top leaders of Taiwan and China, Taiwan's top official in charge of Chinese affairs said Monday. Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) chief Wang Yu-chi said after a legislative hearing that if the top leaders of Taiwan and China were to meet, it would have to be at an appropriate time and place and appropriate titles would have to be used. "We are still studying the matter, and the APEC forum seems to be a relatively suitable occasion for the future meeting," Wang said. Wang was also asked when he would visit China for a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, the head of Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Zhang Zhijun. "We each have plans but they have not yet been finalized," Wang said. The MAC chief stressed that his meeting with Zhang would not touch on the possibility of a meeting between Republic of China (Taiwan) President Ma Ying-jeou and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. In an interview with the Chinese-language Yazhou Zhoukan (Asia Weekly) on Dec. 19, Ma said he was "willing" to attend the next leaders' meeting of the APEC forum to be held in Beijing in October 2014. But he acknowledged that he knew China had already ruled out such an option. "They have announced that they will not 'meet me' under the APEC scenario," Ma told the Hong Kong-based weekly. He said that certain conditions were needed before leaders on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait could meet, given that neither side recognizes the other's sovereignty. That's why some people suggest that APEC could be an opportune venue for such a meeting," Ma told the weekly, noting that many sensitive issues were already addressed when Taiwan was admitted to the group. APEC refers to its members, for example, as "economies" instead of "states," and its annual summit is called an "economic leaders' meeting," Ma said. Even with those accommodations, however, Taiwan's president has been barred from attending the APEC leaders' summit in person because of Beijing's objections and has had to name a proxy to attend the meeting on his behalf each year. Taiwan's government recently expressed the hope that Ma could participate in the APEC forum in his capacity as the leader of an economic entity. If Ma were to attend the APEC forum to be held in China, it would also mark the first time a Republic of China (Taiwan) president has set foot in the People's Republic of China. (By Hsiao Pao-hsian, Sofia Wu and Y.L. Kao)