"Taiwan boycotts APEC and warns China on ties"

(Quelle: www.yahoo.de, Freitag 19. Oktober 2001)


By Brian Rhoads and Alice Hung

Reuters, Oct. 19, 2001

Taiwan's delegation prepared on Friday to walk out of an Asia-Pacific meeting in Shanghai in a row over the island's status, warning that the spat could damage ties between the political rivals.

Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian called the failure to send the island an invitation to this weekend's summit of 21 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies a "total disregard of protocol".

"I believe Communist China has hurt the feelings of our people," Chen said, warning of a "negative impact on cross-Strait relations".

Beijing, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province that must eventually be reunified with the mainland, has said Taipei should follow past APEC practice and send an envoy with an economic background.

Taiwan had proposed sending former vice president Li Yuan-zu to the summit after Beijing rejected repeated requests for Chen himself to attend.

The island's decision to boycott APEC came a day after China's foreign minister humiliated Taiwan's economics minister, cutting him off at a ministerial news conference and saying the debate over the island's representation was a "waste of time".

Taiwan's delegates already in Shanghai for pre-summit meetings would head for home on Friday and Saturday, said Vice Economic Affairs Minister Steve Chen.

"We regret this situation and we would like to lodge our strong protest against this irrational behaviour," Chen told Reuters on the APEC sidelines.

"If there will be any damage it is created by China, not by us because from the very beginning we have been very reasonable," he said.


China's APEC spokeswoman, Zhang Qiyue, said Beijing was still playing the good host and following protocol established when Taiwan joined the group in 1991.

Taiwan takes part in APEC meetings under the title "Chinese Taipei", an arrangement designed to overcome Beijing's objections to recognition of the island's sovereignty.

The highly public row has marred the APEC forum, where members are seeking to build a consensus on measures to fight terrorism in the wake of the attacks on the United States and to combat the global economic slump.

It has also become a major embarrassment to host China, which has sought to showcase its financial capital Shanghai to foreign investors and generate positive publicity for the highest profile meeting of foreign leaders in modern China.

"This year's APEC is very important, thus I think all the APEC members don't wish such a crucial meeting to be disrupted by a dispute that, in the first place, should not have happened," said China's Zhang.

Still, the fracas would have little effect on the outcome of the summit, which will bring together Chinese President Jiang Zemin, U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Alexander Putin among others.

"It's unfortunate but it's not going to change the APEC summit, which is one of the most extraordinary ones that has ever been held because of the agenda," Tom Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told Reuters.

APEC's normal economic agenda has assumed an unprecedented focus on politics in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States.


The decision to boycott the Shanghai summit came after a testy exchange between China's foreign minister, Tang Jiaxuan, and Taiwan's economic minister on Thursday.

As U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and other APEC ministers looked on, Tang silenced Taiwan's Lin Hsin-i, who had climbed to his feet and raised his hand to speak.

"Chairman, chairman," Lin called out to Tang, the host of the event in Shanghai.

Tang snapped that it was "unnecessary to waste time" on the subject.

Taiwan had also been barred from an anti-terrorism ministerial meeting in Shanghai this week. And APEC sources said Beijing's misgivings about joining an anti-money-laundering group to which Taiwan already belongs was holding up agreement on measures to clamp down on the flow of funds to terrorists.

Despite the row, Lawrence Greenwood, Washington's senior APEC official, said Taiwan's role at APEC was solid.

"Taiwan has played a valuable role since their entry into APEC... and we anticipate it will continue to play a valuable role at all levels of APEC, from the working level to the very top level," he told a news conference.

Pam Fayle, Australia's ambassador to APEC appeared to back China's stance on protocol and said Taiwan had provided valuable input to the process already -- though she added its absence at the summit would not go unnoticed.

"There is an accepted formula for participation by Chinese Taipei in both ministerial and leaders' meetings," she told a news conference. It is obviously not ideal if they are not represented..."


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