TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan has assured the United States it has no intention of causing trouble in the Taiwan Strait, the self-ruled island’s envoy to a summit of Asia-Pacific leaders said on Monday.
The comments by James Soong came after he told reporters in the Vietnamese city of Danang at the weekend that he had good exchanges with both U.S. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during informal moments between summit events.
“We don’t want to create trouble in the Taiwan Strait, and lead the U.S., China and Japan, and all observers, to think we are a troublemaker. The whole world doesn’t hope for Taiwan to be a troublemaker,” Soong said in response to a question on his interactions with Trump and Tillerson.
“We hope to use peaceful means to solve relevant problems.”
Soong also said he had a “natural interaction” with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Relations between Beijing and Taipei have nosedived since President Tsai Ing-wen was elected last year. China believes she wants formal independence for Taiwan, a red line for Beijing.
For her part, Tsai says she wants to maintain peace with China but will defend Taiwan’s democracy and security.
China has suspended a regular dialogue mechanism with Taiwan since Tsai came to power and stepped up military exercises around the island. It has also increased diplomatic pressure by winning over another two of the island’s dwindling number of diplomatic allies.
Soong, who is chairman of the China-friendly People First Party, emphasized at the summit that Tsai had repeatedly talked about seeking peaceful relations and stability with China.
This month, Xi told Trump in Beijing that Taiwan was the most important and sensitive issue in Sino-U.S. ties.
Reporting by Jess Macy Yu; Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Robert Birsel