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Taiwan frets ahead of Trump-Xi meeting
March 21, 2017
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TAIPEI: Taiwan’s government, worried about being used as a pawn by China and the United States, said on Monday the self-ruled island must protect its own interests as concerns in Taipei rise ahead of an expected meeting of US and Chinese leaders.

China has never renounced the use of force to take back what it deems a wayward province and has been pressuring Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who leads an independence-leaning ruling party, to concede Taiwan is a part of China.

The United States is Taiwan’s only major political ally and sole arms supplier, and weapons sales to Taiwan have repeatedly upset Beijing.

“We call on the United States and China, when they improve relations, to not use Taiwan in their own interest or as a chess piece,” Catherine Chang, Taiwan’s minister in charge of China affairs, the Mainland Affairs Council, told reporters.

Chang urged Beijing to communicate with Taipei “in order to maintain stability and peace in the Asia Pacific region.”

The comments come after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday in Beijing that US President Donald Trump anticipates a meeting “soon.”

At issue for Taipei is whether a Trump-Xi meeting will harm Taipei’s interests as Washington begins considering a big, new arms package for Taiwan, a move sure to anger China.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China’s resolute opposition to US arms sales to Taiwan was clear and consistent. “We hope the US fully recognises the high sensitivity and serious harmfulness of US arms sales to Taiwan,” she told a daily news briefing, adding that the United States should handle the Taiwan issue cautiously.

There is contact between Taiwan and the new administration on the arms sale issue, but a specific request list has not been drawn up for this year, though there are pending requests from last year, defence ministry official Wu Pao-kun told lawmakers.

“We should seek the greatest advantage in the interaction between the United States and China, to reduce the possibility of Communist China guiding and manipulating the US-China-Taiwan relationship,” said Peng Sheng-chu, chief of Taiwan’s National Security Bureau.

Peng, who was answering questions at a parliamentary session, did not elaborate on the steps Taiwan should take, but said the bureau’s current intelligence showed a new communique that could hurt Taiwan’s interests was unlikely to result from a Trump-Xi meeting.

Reuters

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