Taiwan’s APEC Envoy Chatted With Biden at Summit, but Not Xi

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By Michael Martina and Ben Blanchard

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) -Taiwan’s APEC envoy Morris Chang said on Friday that he had informal interactions with U.S. President Joe Biden and discussions with Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a summit in San Francisco, but none with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Chinese-claimed Taiwan, which takes part in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum as “Chinese Taipei” and does not send its president to summits, has faced increased military pressure from Beijing, including two rounds of major war games during the past year and a half.

Chang, the 92-year-old founder of chip giant TSMC, told reporters he had also talked with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on the sidelines of the U.S.-hosted event, a replay of their meeting last year in Thailand, where Chang also met Xi.

Chang said he didn’t have any exchanges with Xi this year. Given that both Taiwan and China are members, APEC is one of the few global forums where officials from the two sides can interact, even if just to exchange pleasantries.

“My interactions with President Biden (were) of a social, in fact I might say, humorous nature,” Chang said.

“With Secretary Blinken, I mainly conveyed our strong desire for regional peace and prosperity, and also to some extent our very strong desire for increasing the supply resiliency,” he said.

Chang said his conversations with more than 10 APEC leaders, including Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, focused on peace and economic development, supply chains and semiconductors.

Chang is retired from TSMC, although he remains influential as the elder statesman of Taiwan’s important semiconductor industry.

The United States, like most countries, has no formal ties with Taiwan, but is its most important international backer and arms provider.

Tensions over Taiwan featured in Biden’s meeting with Xi earlier in the week, when the Chinese leader relayed conditions under which Beijing would use military force toward the island.

The White House has not elaborated on those conditions, but Biden asked Xi to respect Taiwan’s presidential election process next year, according to a U.S. official.

Chang called the Biden-Xi talks a “good meeting.”

“It was good news that they resumed the military communications, and I think that it should help to reduce the tension between the United States and China. And it should increase the stability of (the) Taiwan Strait,” he said.

China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao expressed concern in San Francisco over U.S. curbs on semiconductor exports to China, implemented by Washington to prevent advanced American technology from being used to strengthen the Chinese military. U.S. officials have sought to patch possible loopholes in the restrictions to prevent Beijing from circumventing them.

Taiwan’s envoy Chang said he supported those U.S. export controls on China.

“How effective they are is a different question.”

(Reporting by Michael Martina in San Francisco and Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Editing by Chris Reese, Kim Coghill and Tom Hogue)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

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