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Taiwan envoy says he’s hopeful Biden-Xi meeting will reduce tensions in the Asia-Pacific region

SAN FRANCISCO– The 92-year-old businessman who represented Taiwan at this week’s summit of Asia-Pacific leaders in San Francisco expressed hope on Friday that the meeting between US President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping will ease tensions between the two superpowers and in the region would help reduce. .

Morris Chang, the founder of microchip giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, also suggested the meeting could help promote economic stability and reliable supply chains.

“You don’t have to be a leader to know that if there is no peace, there is no supply chain to begin with,” Chang said at a news conference at the end of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

Chang said the meeting between Biden and Xi was “good,” pointing to their agreement to resume high-level military communications.

“It should help reduce tensions between the US and China, and it should increase the stability of the Taiwan Strait,” Chang said.

Taiwan, a self-ruled island of 23 million people, remains the thorniest issue in US-China relations as Beijing and Washington clash over sovereignty. Tensions have flared in recent years as Beijing increases military pressure on the island, which claims it is part of Chinese territory and vows to take it by force if necessary to achieve national unification.

Washington has a security treaty with Taiwan to deter any armed attack from Beijing and has stepped up its support for the island. The US emphasizes that the matter must be resolved peacefully, without taking sides.

It was a high priority when Xi and Biden met for four hours at an estate outside San Francisco on Wednesday, in their first in-person meeting in a year.

Xi sought assurances from Biden that the US would not support Taiwan’s independence and asked Washington to support China’s peaceful reunification with Taiwan.

“China will realize reunification, and this cannot be stopped,” the Chinese president said.

Biden, meanwhile, urged Xi to refrain from military exercises in and around the Taiwan Strait.

Since September 2020, the Chinese military has been sending warships and fighter planes to the island almost every day. In August 2022, Beijing fired missiles at the island and blockaded it for days after Nancy Pelosi, then Speaker of the House of Representatives, visited the island over Beijing’s objections.

Biden told Xi that Washington remains unchanged in its policy toward Taiwan and opposes any unilateral change to the status quo from either side.

“We expect that the cross-strait differences will be resolved through peaceful means,” Biden said.

Sun Yun, director of the China program at Washington-based think tank Stimson Center, said Washington would not accept Beijing’s new demand to support peaceful reunification.

“This is categorically different from the US goal that the resolution of the Taiwan issue should be peaceful, which does not impose a condition on what the outcome will look like, but only that it should be peaceful,” Sun said. “This is a request that we have seen floating around the Chinese interlocutors lately. The US is unlikely to accept this.”

In San Francisco, Chang represented Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in attending the summit, as Beijing was opposed to Tsai attending.

Chang, who represented Taiwan at the APEC summit for the seventh time, said he was tasked by Tsai to convey the message that Taiwan is committed to regional peace and prosperity and that the island will work with its partners to achieve control climate change and build a more resilient supply. chains and reducing the digital divide.

“I think I did it – I did my best to deliver the four messages,” Chang said.

Chang said he had “many interactions” with Biden, believed there was no formal conversation, and said he spoke with senior U.S. officials including Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Lael Brainard, the economic adviser from Biden.

Chang said he had also held “serious” talks with at least half of the leaders of the region’s 21 economies, including Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, on issues such as regional peace, economic development and supply chains, but that he did not did. talk to Xi at the summit.