Sun, Oct 16, 2005 - Page 8 News List

KMT's response is a positive step

By the Liberty Times editorial

When President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) met South Korean special envoy Yun Hai-jung a few days ago, he told Yun that Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) would be his envoy to the APEC summit in Busan on Nov. 18 and 19. Wang, meanwhile, has already stressed that as long as everything is appropriately arranged and in the national interest, duty called upon him to represent the nation at the meeting.

When the news of this first broke, a displeased Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) complained that he had not been shown the respect due to his position. But after calling a meeting of the party's top-level officials and vice-chairmen to discuss the issue, he changed his tune and said that he was pleased.

With globalization, regional cooperation has become a way to promote friendly competition between neighboring countries. Levels of development are uneven throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Countries such as the US, Canada, Japan and Australia are highly developed economically, while Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore are moving into the ranks of developed nations. China, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam are working hard to catch up.

Politically, the nations come in every shade -- from free and democratic to dictatorships. But unless these political and economic imbalances are dealt with effectively, they may well become a source of friction that could lead to war or terrorism, thus throwing the region into turmoil.

These concerns were the reasons for the establishment of APEC. In the case of Taiwan, taking into account its location at the geographical center of the Asia-Pacific region and its successful experience of political and economic development, it could use regional exchanges to strengthen cooperation, promote welfare and raise living standards within the Asia-Pacific region. This is why APEC needs Taiwan.

China, however, will not relent in its suppression of Taiwan just because APEC is an economic forum. When China joined APEC in 1991, it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the organization that said Taiwan could only send its minister in charge of APEC-related economic affairs to attend the meeting. The memorandum also stated that Taiwan's minister and deputy minister of foreign affairs were not allowed to attend since they are symbols of national sovereignty.

Since then, Taiwan has only been able to attend the leaders summit and the meeting of APEC foreign ministers, the two most important meetings at the summit, through a proxy. As a result, the only Taiwanese representatives to the previous APEC leaders summits have been Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), former chairman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD), the late Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫), senior adviser to the president, Chiang Pyng-kun (江丙坤), who is also a CEPD chairman, Perng Fai-nan (彭淮南), governor of the central bank and Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲), president of Academia Sinica.

Neither Chen nor former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) have been able to attend APEC meetings. The president of the Legislative Yuan is the leader of one of the five government branches and also the legislative speaker, and therefore is a representative of public opinion. If Wang's appointment as envoy is acceptable to South Korea, it would therefore be a major breakthrough as far as the level of Taiwan's representation at the meeting is concerned.

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