Pence Says Taiwan's APEC Envoy Asked to Start Free Trade Talks

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said that Taiwan’s representative at a regional summit spoke to him about a possible trade deal.

Pence on Saturday met with Morris Chang, who is leading the island’s delegation at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Papua New Guinea. APEC is the only major regional forum that includes Taiwan as a member.

“The conversation with them was about economics,” Pence said. “They were strong supporters of TPP and they made a case for being considered for a free trade agreement. And I assured them we would carry back that ask.’’

Pence declined to say whether the administration would enter trade talks with Taiwan, adding that President Donald Trump would make that decision.

The Trump administration has supported Taiwan by sending warships through the Taiwan Strait and approving legislation to allow high-level diplomatic visits to Taipei. That’s drawn protests from Beijing, which considers the island a province.

Earlier this month, a top Chinese official gave National Security Adviser John Bolton a pointed warning on Taiwan, as the two sides began a round of high-level meetings in Washington. Before joining the administration in March, Bolton had been a prominent advocate for revisiting the U.S.’s “one-China policy,” in which it acknowledges Beijing’s position that Taiwan is part of China.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.