Updated: 09/03/2014 21:43 | By Agence France-Presse

China sends 'special envoy' to Taiwan over APEC summit

Taiwan confirmed Wednesday that a "special envoy" from China had delivered a letter inviting Taiwan to an APEC summit in Beijing, as hopes faded of a  historic meeting between their leaders at the event.

China sends 'special envoy' to Taiwan over APEC summit

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou speaks during a press conference in Taipei, on March 23, 2014 - by Mandy Cheng

Local media said the envoy was Gong Qinggai, deputy director of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, who flew to Taipei to deliver the invitation.

The foreign ministry said special envoys had been sent in the past to Taiwan to deliver invitations to meetings of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Ministry spokeswoman Anna Kao did not name the envoy. And President Ma Ying-jeou's office declined to say who from Taiwan would attend the summit.

Wang Yu-chi, chairman of Taiwan's top China-policy planning body the Mainland Affairs Council, for the first time in February urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to meet Ma on the sidelines of the meeting in November.

President Ma voiced the hope again last week.

China responded coolly, fearing any such leaders' meeting at an international forum could give the impression Beijing recognises the island as an independent state.

Taiwanese leaders in the past were barred from APEC summits due to objections from China, which regards the island as part of its territory. Taiwan was represented by senior economic advisers or business leaders.

But Lien Chan, vice president from 1996 to 2000, represented Taiwan at the 2008 APEC meeting -- the highest-level official ever to do so.

This was seen as a reflection of warming ties between Taipei and Beijing, following the election of the China-friendly Ma earlier that year. Ma was re-elected in 2012.

China still considers Taiwan part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary. The island has ruled itself since splitting from the mainland in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

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