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‘Don’t use Taiwan’, Taipei frets ahead of Trump-Xi meeting

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by Reuters

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.

A combination of file photos showing Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) at London’s Heathrow Airport, October 19, 2015 and US President Donald Trump posing for a photo in New York City, US, May 17, 2016. (REUTERS/Toby Melville/Lucas Jackson/File Photos | Manila Bulletin)

A combination of file photos showing Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) at London’s Heathrow Airport, October 19, 2015 and US President Donald Trump posing for a photo in New York City, US, May 17, 2016. (REUTERS/Toby Melville/Lucas Jackson/File Photos | Manila Bulletin)

The United States is Taiwan’s only major political ally and sole arms supplier.

“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 came 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.

“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, didn’t elaborate on what steps Taiwan should take, but said that based on the bureau’s current intelligence, it was not likely that a new communique that could hurt Taiwan’s interests would result from a Trump-Xi meeting.

“But we do not rule out the possibility,” Peng said.

Xi praised increasing communications in recent weeks between Beijing and Washington, and said he is “confident” of seeing bilateral relations moving in the “right direction.”

Taiwan was discussed during the meeting, but details were not provided.

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