Hu Jintao, right, meets Lien Chan on the sidelines of the APEC forum in Vladivostock, Sept. 7. (File photo/CNA)
China's president, Hu Jintao, promised Friday to "seriously study " the possibility of helping Taiwan participate in the International Civil Aviation Organization "in an appropriate way."
Hu made the remark in a meeting with Taiwan's former vice president Lien Chan on the sidelines of the leaders' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, in response to issues of Taiwan's international participation.
It was by far the most explicit expression of Beijing's stance on Taiwan's ICAO bid since Taiwan began pushing the bid in 2009.
At a news conference held after the meeting, Lien described Hu's remark as a goodwill gesture from Beijing that marks the beginning of a new opportunity because it opens the doors for Taiwan's ICAO bid.
Lien admitted however that the goal is "not immediately accessible" and said Taiwan will make sure it becomes a responsible participant and will work toward participation step by step in accordance with ICAO requirements.
Thanks to warming ties across the Taiwan Strait since President Ma Ying-jeou first took office in 2008, Taiwan has been able to attend the World Health Assembly — the decision-making arm of the World Health Organization — as an observer since May 2009.
Asked about the possibility of Taiwan gaining WHO membership and accession to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Lien said he had not been authorized to discuss those issues with Hu.
It is the fifth time that Lien is attending the APEC summit on behalf of President Ma, who would not be allowed to attend in person due to China's objections.
The leaders' meeting is part of the APEC 2012 Leaders Week that is being held in Vladivostok Sept. 2-9 under Russia's chair. This year, the regional event will focus on trade and investment liberalization, regional economic integration and food security.