Tue, Mar 19, 2002 - Page 17 News List

WTO representative stays realistic

STAFF WRITER

Taiwan's WTO representative Yen Ching-chang shakes hands with the global trade body's director-general, Mike Moore, in Geneva earlier this month.

PHOTO: WTO

Yen Ching-chang (顏慶章) Taiwan's first reprentative to the WTO yesterday told lawmakers that nothing would change in regard to links across the Taiwan Strait as long as both sides were unable to enter into any kind of meaningful dialogue.

Yen, who addressed lawmakers at the Legislative Yuan during an interpellation, stuck to the often-repeated government line that the WTO was not the only mechanism through which cross-strait dialogue could be conducted.

"Non-political cross-strait dialogue under the WTO would depend on China's attitude, the nature of the talks and, of course, a mutual desire to hold them ... if it's mutual then there's hope," Yen said.

Chinese officials continue to demand that talks can only take place under their "one China" principle, which is unacceptable to Taipei.

After accepting his role as China's ambassador to the WTO, Sun Zhenyu (孫陣宇) emphasized the importance of communication between members, according to Beijing's state-controlled China Daily. "It's important to communicate with other WTO members, especially developing members, and get to know their expectations and viewpoints on important issues," he was quoted as saying.

Like Yen, Sun is a relative newcomer to playing a hands-on role in WTO activities, having never taken part in multilateral negotiations, although he served as director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation's American and Oceanian Affairs Department in the early 1990s.

During this tenure he oversaw bilateral-market-access discussions with the US, according to the China Daily.

Yen has written two books on the history of the General Agreement on Tarriffs and Trade, the forerunner of the WTO, while having also served as Minister of Finance. Yen has met with nine other WTO representatives, including Mike Moore, director general of the trade body, but has not yet had the chance to meet with China's representative.

Asked if he would be organizing a special meeting with his Chinese counterparts, Yen said it would be better if the two sides simply take the opportunity to meet when the chance arises during open meetings that include other members.

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