Fri, Oct 10, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Name question reportedly delaying FTA

AFP , TAIPEI

Talks between Taiwan and Singapore on the signing of a free-trade agreement (FTA) have stalled, under pressure from Beijing, over the title to be used by Taipei, a lawmaker and an official said yesterday.

People First Party (PFP) Legislator Thomas Lee (李桐豪) quoted Minister of Economics Lin Yi-fu (林義夫) as confirming the talks have halted.

"The negotiations have ended in a stalemate ... under pressure from Beijing," Li was quoted as saying.

Chinese-language newspapers said Beijing had warned Singapore against signing the agreement with Taiwan.

But Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Richard Shih (石瑞琦) said the door was still open regarding the talks with Singapore.

"Signing FTAs is the government's established policy ... efforts are still under way," Shih said.

When asked what title Taiwan favors in an FTA with Singapore, Shih said Taipei prefers "Republic of China" or "Taiwan," which observers said are unlikely to be accepted by Singapore.

"Above all, the title has to underscore the reality of [Taiwan] as a sovereign state and Taiwan not being part of China," Shih said.

There are increasing signs of a tougher stand by Taiwan over the issues of its title in dealing with the other countries despite Beijing's attempts to squeeze the country internationally.

Lin told the legislature on Wednesday that the government would prefer "Republic of China," "Taiwan" or "Taiwan Economic Entity" which have the connotation of a sovereign state as it negotiates on FTAs with countries which do not maintain diplomatic ties with Taipei.

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