Taiwan boycotts APEC summit to protest China’s refusal to accept the island’s representative
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) – Taiwan lost a political battle with rival China and decided Friday to boycott a summit of Asian and Pacific leaders this weekend in Shanghai.
The move ended more than a week of wrangling between China and Taiwan about the island’s decision to have a presidential adviser, Li Yuan-zu, represent the island at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
China objected to the choice, insisting that Taiwan stick with long-standing practice and send a representative with experience in economic, not political, affairs.
Both sides joined APEC in 1991, but China has successfully blocked Taiwanese presidents from going to the group’s annual forums, attended by the top politicians from all other members.
Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949, and Beijing claims that the island should be under its rule.
To avoid protests from politically powerful China, APEC protocol has called for Taiwan’s president to designate a stand-in, usually an economics official, to go to the forum.
This year, Taiwan departed from tradition and picked 78-year-old Li, vice president in 1990-96, to attend APEC. The Taiwanese argued that Li, a criminal law expert, was well suited to attend the meeting because terrorism will be a main topic of discussion.
Chinese officials never publicly elaborated on Beijing’s specific objections to Li, though some have hinted that Li’s background in politics was the main problem.
On Friday, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Tien Hung-mao told reporters in Taipei that China forced Taiwan to miss the APEC summit.
”At first we had a good opportunity to nurture a good atmosphere, but during a series of meetings, the mainland failed to be broadminded and demonstrate goodwill,” Tien said.
”So we decided we would not attend the APEC summit meeting,” he said.
On Thursday in Shanghai, Chinese and Taiwanese representatives sparred at a news conference, and Taiwan later said it would protest China’s ”rude” and ”unreasonable” behavior.
At the news event, Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan accused Taiwan of stirring up trouble and using a ”subtle political scheme” by proposing that Li be allowed to represent Taiwan.
When Taiwanese Economics Minister Lin Hsin-yi tried to defend the island’s choice of Li, Tang cut him off and said discussing Taiwan’s representation was a waste of time.
Li’s attendance at APEC would set a precedent of Taiwan sending a representative who has held a high-ranking political position.
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