Sun, Oct 09, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Lin's WTO accusations unfounded, damaging

In his article, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Cho-shui (林濁水) aimed severe criticism at me, thus jeopardizing my reputation within the WTO ("Taiwan is giving up its gains at the WTO," Oct. 5, page 8.) He also misrepresents and belittles the government's decision-making. It is not appropriate to distort the truth in this way and mix up the merits and mistakes of the officials in charge.

Lin said that the government reached a political understanding with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1992 that Taiwan's status was equal to the status of Hong Kong and Macau. Indeed, when the GATT General Council set up a working group to handle Taiwan's application, its chairman stated that part of the understanding was that Taipei would be admitted as an observer, and later when it gained membership, it should conform to the Hong Kong and Macau model, its representatives not using any titles that imply sovereignty. This statement is part of the official protocol and can be read on the GATT Web site.

Lin says that this was a humiliating agreement that renounced Taiwan's sovereignty. I totally agree. Lin is adept at working his way to the heart of an issue but to simply stop at such a superficial statement is inadequate. There are other questions which he should ask in order to get to the root of the issue.

Just as Lin says, the 1992 political understanding doesn't mention that there is no room to change the situation. He said the final report on WTO entry from 2001 was a victory. According to this view, the humiliating understanding from 1992 had disappeared in a puff of smoke by 2001. What an accomplishment.

When Lin calls this a beautiful victory, I can fully understand his delight that Taiwan's sovereignty had been protected. I must ask him, however, if the political understanding mentioned in the GATT chairman's statement had been abolished, surely that joyous event would have permeated every page of the 83-page report from the working group.

However, I believe that Lin has yet to review the contents of the report on the WTO's official Web site and locate the version revised prior to September 2001. Lin may even be confused about this, not knowing that the detailed content concerning sovereignty has been completely deleted or revised.

Specifically, 30 English terms such as "president," "the Executive Yuan," "the Legislative Yuan," "the Judicial Yuan," "national security" and so on were all deleted or changed into something that does not refer to sovereignty at all.

I believe that the government made a good decision in 2003 to prevent the nation from becoming something akin to Hong Kong or Macau. Such a decision revealed the truth that had previously been hidden, but also effectively shook off the restrictions of the GATT chairman's statement. As a result, Taiwan could represent itself as a permanent mission to the WTO, the same as China and other nations, rather than being relegated to status similar to that of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office or the Macau Economic and Trade Office to the WTO. As for the official titles of Taiwanese delegates to the WTO, I cannot talk about that here, for it is still considered confidential.

History leaves tracks, and all we need to do is to follow them to reveal the truth. What was the story behind the chairman's statement? What was the truth behind changes made in the working group's report; what lay behind the changes in name and title in the WTO directory? There is a clear line between truth and falsehood and the truth will eventually be revealed. Officials pursuing their own interests at the expense of the nation will be found out and rejected by the people. I call upon Lin to make his position clear.

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