Tue, Oct 28, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan's foes dog its APEC agenda

By Parris Chang 張旭成

The curtain fell on this year's APEC summit on Oct. 21. I was the only legislator among the consultants in Taiwan's delegation. In the past, all political parties sent representatives, but the situation was different this time. With next year's presidential election drawing near, the pan-blue camp decided to boycott this two-day meeting. Both the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) have decided not to send their lawmakers on President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) scheduled visit to the US and Panama later this month.

It is not right for them to politicize diplomatic affairs in sole consideration of their partisan positions while ignoring the nation's overall interests. It is deplorable indeed.

As the host of this year's APEC meeting, Thailand made an all-out effort to mobilize its citizens. Traffic and open-air activities in Bangkok were under strict control; students and public servants were ordered to take days off; the streets that APEC representatives would pass through were cleaned and spruced up; stray dogs disappeared; some refugees from Myanmar and Cambodia were repatriated; and demonstrations by human rights activists were prohibited.

Thailand's disrespect for human rights has aroused much controversy. For example, the Thai government has arrested and killed drug dealers and the "dark forces" with an iron fist, turned a blind eye to the Myanmar military regime's suppression of its people, and failed to make efforts to push for the release of Myanmar's opposition leader and democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi. All this has stirred up much criticism from international human rights advocates.

Since Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra took power, Thailand has clocked up impressive economic achievements. Shinawatra has also demonstrated his ambition to become the future leader of Southeast Asia. As Indonesia is suffering political and economic doldrums and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is soon to retire, Thailand is indeed outshining its Southeast Asian neighbors. With the US and China making efforts to draw him to their side, Thaksin stands a good chance of becoming the top leader among Southeast Asian countries.

Thailand is highly valued by China. Not only did Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) pay a state visit to Thailand, but the country has also enjoyed closer economic relations with China. A large proportion of Thai businesspeople (including expatriate Chinese and Taiwanese) invest in China. US President George W. Bush also announced that Thailand is a non-NATO ally. In return, Thailand promised to send troops to Iraq to maintain order and participate in reconstruction work.

Did China suppress Taiwan at this year's APEC summit? The impression I got from the con-

versations I had with representatives from different countries in Bangkok is: China continuously engaged in petty maneuvers. The fact that Academia Sinica President Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲), representing President Chen at the APEC meeting, could not deliver a speech at the CEO conference is a perfect example.

Because Beijing expressed its "concern," the host nation made a seating arrangement different from the past and deliberately separated Lee's seat from that of Bush. From this, one can see China's "ability." Also, Taiwan held bilateral talks with many countries but China, contrary to its past practice, refused Taiwan's offer to hold talks.

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