A Taiwan official had a brief conversation with China’s leader Xi Jinping at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, in a rare diplomatic encounter between the two nations.
Taiwan’s representative at the summit Morris Chang, also founder of microchip giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), said he had a brief but “happy” chat with Xi.
“We asked after each, and I congratulated him on the success of the Communist Party’s 20th Congress,” Chang said, referring to last month’s event in Beijing at which Xi secured an unprecedented third term in office.
“It was a very happy, polite interaction,” he added, but said tensions across the Taiwan Strait were not discussed.
Tensions between Taipei and Beijing have risen since China staged war games near the democratically-governed island in August after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited.
APEC is one of the few international organisations Chinese-claimed Taiwan is a member of, as Beijing – which views it as a Chinese province and not a country – blocks its participation at most others.
APEC has traditionally been one the few forums where China and Taiwan talk, even if just in passing for pleasantries.
China cut off a formal talks mechanism with Taiwan after President Tsai Ing-wen first won office in 2016, believing her to be a separatist, which she denies.
- Reuters, with additional editing from Alfie Habershon