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Friday, August 03, 2001, updated at 11:18(GMT+8)

Taiwan Plays Little Tricks in APEC History

In 1992 when the Taiwan "foreign minister" Tsien Fu was interviewed by a local correspondent, he lamented that it was not easy to do Taiwan's diplomatic work. Because wherever he went, nobody would care about him, so the work of Taiwan's "foreign minister" was not the work to be done by a man. It is reported that currently, there are a total of 16 inter-governmental international organizations which Taiwan can participate, of which APEC is the largest and most important one.

Recently when Chinese former Ambassador Wang Yusheng to APEC was interviewed by a Xinhua correspondent, he disclosed in detail the inside story about his dealings with the Taiwan authorities. It should be noted here that the book "Personal Experience-A Senior Chinese Official's Observation" was published in October 2000, in which he made an all-round review of his work at APEC.

On October 2, 1991, China and APEC signed a memorandum of understanding on the question regarding the Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong joining APEC, it is clearly stated that China, as a sovereign State, and Taiwan and Hong Kong as regional economic entities, respectively joined the APEC in the titles of "China's Taipei" and Hong Kong (renamed as "China's Hong Kong" after 1997). Taiwan can only send out a minister in charge of APEC-related economic affairs to attend the ministerial conference, Taiwan's "foreign minister" and "vice-foreign minister" are not allowed to attend the APEC conference. Thereafter, China, in its exchange of notes, states: to ensure the smooth progress of the APEC work and the conveniences of various member States, APEC conference will not be held in Taiwan. Ambassador Wang said: This memorandum of understanding provides me with an effective legal basis for my opposition to Taiwan authorities' expansion of so-called space of diplomatic activities in APEC. On November 12, 1991, the third APEC ministerial conference was held in Seoul, the Republic of Korea, the Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong as the new APEC members attended the meeting for the first time.

The "Administrative Yuan" Title Stirred Up Disturbance

It is disclosed that after Taiwan joined APEC in 1991, it constantly played little tricks on the question of the title and rank of delegate to the conference, for example, the specific capacity of its representative was capped with the title of "Administrative Yuan" or a certain "ministry". In the first half of 1994, at several working group meetings held in China, the Chinese side crossed out Taiwan's representative title, "Administrative Yuan". Taiwan's "foreign ministry's" personnel attending the meeting thus had a quarrel with, and even raised protests against, Ambassador Wang, but our side simply ignored them. However, the Ambassador also pointed out frankly that at conferences of other APEC memberships, although our representative demanded the deletion of the "Administrative Yuan" title, sometimes it was not effective.

However, in 1994 after the informal APEC leadership conference held in Indonesia, the Taiwan side appointed Hsu Li-de "vice-president of the Administrative Yuan" concurrently as "chairman of the economic construction commission". Obviously, its aim was to make it possible for Hsu Li-de to attend the Osaka conference and upgrade the qualification of its representative attending the conference, thereby breaking through the mode of the Seattle and Bogor APEC conferences. As a result, beginning from late 1994, Taiwan's participants at various levels had used more frequently the "Administrative Yuan" title.

Ambassador Wang said in order to frustrate the plot of sending Hsu Li-de with the "vice-president of the Administrative Yuan" title to attend the APEC Osaka Conference, beginning from December 1994, the Chinese side had repeatedly notified in written form senior Taiwan official Shen Kuo-hsiung, pointing out that their use of the "Administrative Yuan" title was in violation of MOU, demanding that it should be corrected. The above letter was copied and sent to the APEC executive secretariat as well as to Indonesia and Japan (hosts of 1993 and 1994 conferences). However, the Taiwanese side not only turned a deaf ear to this, on the contrary, it more frequently used the "Administrative Yuan" title.

In July 1995 an APEC conference of senior officials was held in Japan. Because Lee Teng-hui visited the United States in June that year which exerted tremendous impact on the China-US relations, the "Taiwan independence" force was swollen with arrogance, our side launched a counter-attack on Taiwan's little tricks, at that time we set this goal: "we strive to "wipe out" the "Administrative Yuan", and fight to turn "two Chinas" into "one China".

The Chinese side demanded that Host Japan delete Taiwan's "Administrative Yuan" title in defense of the MOU spirit, but the Japanese side put forward two solutions: First, adding a footnote to the list of the delegation, indicating that the title on the list did not have any political implication; second, the Taiwanese side deleted the term "Administrative Yuan", at the same time, the Chinese side wrote a letter indicating that it would not oppose APEC Conference to be held in Taiwan in the future. Furthermore, the Japanese side explained for Taiwan, saying that MOU did not stipulate that the Taiwanese side could not use the "Administrative Yuan" title, and the political meaning of this title was opened to discussion.

To deal with Japan's cunning practice, the Chinese side took a firm stand, indicating that if the problem could not be resolved, Ambassador Wang would publish an open statement at the plenary session, if the Taiwanese side stubbornly clung to its own opinion, our side would disagree with the Energy Conference and two other specialized conferences to be held in Taiwan, and would not agree with the convening of any APEC conferences in Taiwan in the future.

Shortly after Ambassador Wang clearly stated his attitude, a senior official of an influential country came to Ambassador Wang and said: if our side adopted the above-mentioned stance, the Taiwan side would possibly adopt an "eye for eye" attitude, and speeches disadvantageous to China might be delivered at the meeting, these remarks were obviously threatening. tones, so we answered directly, we had mentally prepared for this, some individual members might come out to speak for Taiwan, but our stand mentioned above was fully reasonable and well-grounded. We had made full estimation concerning any reaction which might be made by Taiwan.

By then, a showdown between the two sides was inevitable. So the Chinese side carefully prepared a draft statement and published the statement at the final day of the conference of senior officials. The Ambassador said the central idea of the statement was that the Taiwan authorities must face up to the reality that Taiwan was a "regional economic entity" and that they must strictly abide by MOU in all their actions. Considering that Taiwan continuously broke the rules, the Chinese side was compelled to declare that in the future China would not agree with any APEC conference to be held in Taiwan, some conferences already agreed to be held in Taiwan were now declared to be cancelled, related working groups were required to reconsider the venues for the conferences.

Immediately thereafter, Taiwan representative Shen Kuo-hsiung delivered a lengthy speech, quoting MOU out of its context and claiming that Taiwan was also a state and had the right to equally participate in APEC, and charging that the Chinese side "obstructing" conferences to be held in Taiwan was a practice of the "big bullying the small" and that Taiwan would adopt "counter-measures" against the mainland.

Although Shen Kuo-hsiung's speech was far away from what was normal, in accordance with the APEC principle of reaching unanimity through consultation, if the Chinese side disagreed, the October conference of the APEC energy work group could not be held in Taipei. In view of this, the Chinese side quickly adopted two measures: First, writing to Australia, leader of the energy work group, clearly explaining why the Chinese side could not attend the conference; second, calling the then Australian minister to China to an interview, reiterating the Chinese side's stand. Under the Chinese side's resolute struggle, Australia gained two guarantees from the Taiwanese side: Taiwan would, as in the past, abide by the MOU; Taiwan would not send personnel with the "Administrative Yuan" title to attend the meeting. By far, this round of trial of strength ended with the victory of the Chinese side.

The Birth of the "Seattle Mode"

In June 1993, shortly after the United States suggested convening the informal APEC leadership conference, China faced the problem of how to deal with Taiwan's participation in the conference. China's stand was clear-cut: It both needed to abide by the MOU; and to give expressions to the differences between a sovereign State and a regional economic entity in protocol, particularly the need to provide conveniences for Chinese President Jiang Zemin's attending the informal leadership conference. The US side also saw the importance of properly solving this question. In mid-September 1993, the United States sent its representative to come to China for consultations. On the evening of September 18, when the then Chinese vice-foreign minister Liu Huaqiu was meeting with the US representative, he again emphasized the Chinese stand and hoped that the US side would give its written promise.

On the morning of September 19, the US side made a 5-point oral statement in regard to Taiwan's participation in the meeting: The US side will adopt a responsible attitude identical with common practices and APEC-related understanding, perform its duties and will act in line with its consistent stand on the fact that there is only one China and Beijing is China's only legal government. The Taiwanese side would send out its "economic minister" to attend the meeting, arrangements for the conference would respect the difference between a sovereign State and regional economic representative.

On October 11, Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Huaqiu indicated to the US side that Taiwanese delegate to the conference could only attend the conference in the capacity of the "director of the economic construction commission", and not the "representative" of Lee Teng-hui or the "envoy" title., nor the title of the "member of the political affairs commission under the Administration Yuan"; the US representative indicated that the United States understood the sensitivity of the Taiwan question and that he would try his best to make proper arrangements in accordance with APEC-related MOU and the "one-China" policy and thus would not complicate the issue.

That was the birth of the "Seattle Mode" for Taiwan to attend the APEC Conference, the most important significance of this mode lies in the fact that in the practice of the APEC summit conference, Taiwan was further limited to a "regional economic entity", APEC-related MOU was comprehensively safeguarded and observed. The 1994 Indonesia's Bogor Conference further confirmed the "Seattle Mode".

Ambassador Wang said that later in 1998 and 1999 Taiwan made provocation three times, but were all defeated. Reports say that in 1999 after Lee Teng-hui dished out his "two-states theory", Taiwan again tried to probe the possibility for it to host the 2003 APEC annual meeting, but the result showed even the United States did not support it, Taipei could not but hastily wind up the matter.

In This Section

On October 2, 1991, China and APEC signed a memorandum of understanding on the question regarding the Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong joining APEC, it is clearly stated that China, as a sovereign State, and Taiwan and Hong Kong as regional economic entities, respectively joined the APEC in the titles of "China's Taipei" and Hong Kong (renamed as "China's Hong Kong" after 1997).

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