Tue, Jul 01, 2003 - Page 1 News List

China extends its tentacles to Morocco

DIPLOMATIC ISOLATION Taiwan's delegation to a women's summit in Marrakech says Beijing succeeded in preventing them from clearing customs in Morocco

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lee Cher-jean, deputy head of the Government Information Office, explains how her delegation was blocked from attending the Global Summit of Women during a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Three members of Taiwan's delegation to the Global Summit of Women yesterday protested against what they said was Beijing's interference in their attendance at the two-day meeting in Marrakech after being denied entry by Moroccan authorities.

"We've learned from the security staff in Morocco that it's the People's Republic of China [PRC] that has disrupted our attendance," Lee Cher-jean (李雪津), deputy head of the Government Information Office, told a press conference yesterday afternoon.

Lee, who led the four-member delegation to the summit, said the team was denied entry upon arrival at the airport in Marrakech on Friday when the local authorities claimed the delegation's visas were invalid.

"They said the unit [the General Consulate of Morocco in Hong Kong] that had issued the visas had not been authorized to do so by [Morocco's] top authorities," she said.

The team was traveling with valid travel documents along with formal invitations from Irene Natividad, the summit chairwoman, Lee said.

Rosa Yang (楊雪紅), chairwoman of the Business and Professional Women's Club in Taipei, was also denied entry despite the fact that she was traveling with a US passport and does not require a visa to enter Morocco, Lee said.

The team, after spending about 12 hours at the airport, was forced to leave for Amsterdam the next morning.

After arriving in Amsterdam, Yang returned to Morocco and was successful in entering the country, although she didn't say how she secured her entry.

She made her way to the meeting, held by a Washington-based non-governmental organization, to distribute a protest letter to summit organizers and participants about Beijing's interference, Lee said.

Yang told the Taipei Times yesterday that she stood up during the meeting to speak for Taiwan's delegation.

"I've already made this issue known to some 100 participants at the meeting and have already issued letters to attendants here. They found China's moves unbelievable," Yang said from Morocco.

Yang declined to disclose further details.

Lee said she would issue a protest letter to the Moroccan government in her capacity as head of the delegation.

She made the comments in a briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with ministry spokesman Richard Shih (石瑞琦) as well the other two team members, Yang Huang Maysing (楊黃美幸), vice chair of the ministry's Research and Planning Board, and Kristy Hsu (徐遵慈), chairwoman of the Women and Science Committee, National Union of Women's Associations.

Shih declined to clarify whether the ministry would stage a similar protest to Morocco, but added Beijing should shoulder responsibility for the delegation's thwarted attendance.

Yang Haung said China's aggression was counterproductive.

"The more China endeavors to sabotage us internationally, the more anti-China sentiments develop among the public in Taiwan. I have no clue why China has failed to understand this point," she said.

Lee said, "China's continuous sabotage is indicative of the fact that Beijing is far from being a mature participant in international society."

According to Lee, China has not dispatched a participant to the two-day meeting, which included a pre-summit round table for female ministers from more than 20 countries.

Yang Huang said meeting organizers should apologize to Taiwan's delegation, although Lee said the team was unable to ask summit organizers about their being stranded at the Marrakech airport.

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