Obama-Xi To Discuss Cross-Strait Issues Before G20 Summit

Obama-Xi To Discuss Cross-Strait Issues Before G20 Summit
Photo Credit: AP/達志影像

What you need to know

Although Taiwan will not be the main topic of discussion between presidents Xi and Obama, the question of stability in the Taiwan Strait is expected to be raised.

U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to hold an extensive bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) on Sept. 3 before the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China.

The Washington Press Center held a briefing on Aug. 30 to address Obama’s trip to China for the G20 summit and Laos earlier this week. Asked if Obama will discuss cross-Strait relations with Xi in the meeting, Dan Kritenbrink, senior director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, said, “I’m sure our Chinese friends will raise the issue.”

The senior director said the discussion would likely focus on stability between China and Taiwan.

“He [Obama] will emphasize that the U.S. national interest is in seeing the continuance of stability across the Strait,” Kritenbrink said. “And I think that the President will also underscore the importance of ensuring that, as that stability is maintained, both sides take steps to contribute to that stability.”

Kritenbrink also said that President Obama would emphasize his commitment to the U.S. “one China” policy based on the three joint communiqués and the Taiwan Relations Act when addressing cross-Strait relations with Xi.

Daniel Russel, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, also added during the briefing that “the position and the message of the United States in response to what we hear from Beijing on Taiwan isn’t a function of who the leader is in Taiwan. It’s a function of our policy and our principles.”

Russel also spoke about the U.S.’ position on Taiwan’s future developments. It encourages Taiwan to boost its international presence and ability to participate in global organizations “in constructive ways that don’t require statehood as a condition for membership or in other appropriate formats.”

“We know that the people of Taiwan have a lot to contribute, have a lot to give, and that’s true certainly in economic terms and we see that at APEC [Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation].” Russel said. “It’s also true in terms of security and safety and health and a wide range of issues, including law enforcement, where we think the contribution of the people of Taiwan is and should be welcome.”

When asked whether the U.S. would lobby China on Taiwan’s recent quest for participation in the Assembly 39th Session held at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal from Sept. 27 to Oct. 7, Kritenbrink said, “I anticipate the President will have an opportunity to reiterate our longstanding position on cross-Strait relations and what that means for both sides of the Strait and the maintenance of that peace and stability.”

However, Taiwan will not be the main focus of the Obama-Xi meeting, said Alan Romberg, director of the East Asia program at Stimson Center, a U.S.-based think tank.

Romberg told CNA that although China and Taiwan still hold different views regarding the "1992 consensus" and the “one China” policy, he believes that cross-Strait relations recently have not been sensitive or dangerous, and therefore will not be the primary subject at the bilateral meeting.

Obama and Xi are also expected to discuss U.S.-China relations, the South China Sea dispute, cyber security, economic issues and human rights, according to a White House's Aug. 29 press briefing.

First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: Edward White