Ma repeats call for APEC meet with China president

Ma repeats call for APEC meet with China president

TAIPEI, Taiwan - President Ma Ying-jeou has renewed a call for his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to meet with him at the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

Ma said the APEC summit would be an ideal opportunity for him to meet with Xi, but China has remained "very reluctant."

Ma ruled out any possibility of holding such a meeting elsewhere.

He made the remarks during an interview with Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun on Thursday. The interview was published yesterday.

Ma first proposed meeting Xi at APEC earlier this year. But so far China has not made any official response.

It is generally believed that Xi may also want to meet with Ma but is reluctant to do so at APEC, where leaders from many other countries, including US President Barack Obama, will also be in attendance.

In the past, Taiwan's presidents have only been allowed to send envoys to the annual event despite the country's full membership in the economic body.

Beijing, which considers Taiwan a part of China and is eager to isolate it from the international community, has in the past blocked Taipei from being represented by its president at APEC summits. It is unlikely to ignore the political implications and make an exception this year.

"APEC would be a rather good time and venue," Ma told the Japanese newspaper as he repeated his call for a meeting with Xi at the summit. He stressed that members take part in APEC as "economies" rather than "countries," and participants at the summit are addressed as "leaders," rather than as "presidents" or "premiers."

He said that when APEC was formed, it deliberately played down the members' governmental status because of the complicated relationships between some of its more than 20 members.

Ma said that Taiwan's position is that APEC is a practical platform for hosting a meeting between himself and Xi.

During the interview, the president also condemned Taiwan's opposition camp for resorting to what he called "violence" at legislative meetings that hurts what is a democratic institution.

He noted that during his last four-year presidential term, lawmakers from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) occupied the speaker's dais on 43 occasions to sabotage legislative operations.

Ma said DPP lawmakers have now resorted to the same "violent" measures 43 times since he was re-elected to a second term two years ago.

"Democracy and violence are never compatible," Ma said.

He also criticised the student-led Sunflower Movement for occupying the Legislature for weeks and storming the Cabinet headquarters earlier this year.

He said parliaments in the US and Europe would never allow this to happen, pointing out that police in Finland used pepper spray and tear gas to drive protesters from the parliament building in April.

He said that the Taiwan government had instead chosen a "soft" approach to handling the student occupiers and that the government is now trying to better understand the motivations behind the students-led protests.

He noted that he held a forum with students on May 20 to mark his inauguration to the presidency, during which he addressed protesters' demands.

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