Sat, Oct 15, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Seoul urged to honor APEC agreement

BUSAN MEET The Presidential Office accused Beijing of distorting the spirit of an MOU on representation signed when Taiwan, China and Hong Kong joined APEC

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Presidential Office yesterday appealed to the South Korean government to uphold the spirit of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with APEC in light of Beijing's "twisting the MOU's meaning" in its opposition to Taiwan's envoy attending next month's APEC summit.

Despite Beijing's opposition to Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) acting as President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) envoy to the APEC leaders' summit, the Presidential Office does not intend to change his assignment.

"President Chen has no other candidate so far to replace Wang Jin-pyng," Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General James Huang (黃志芳) said yesterday.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan (孔泉) said Beijing's opposition was based on the MOU, which states that Taiwan is only allowed to send its minister for economic affairs to the APEC summit.

The Presidential Office released a statement yesterday accusing the Chinese government of deliberately distorting the spirit and the meaning of the MOU.

"First, the MOU only prescribes that Taiwan's foreign affairs minister should not attend the annual APEC ministerial-level meeting," Huang said.

Huang said the MOU was signed in 1992, when Taiwan, China and Hong Kong joined APEC simultaneously. At that time the highest-level APEC event was an annual meeting of the group's economic and foreign ministers.

"Furthermore, since APEC only began to hold its informal leaders' meeting in 1993, the MOU signed the year before should not be applicable to the summit," Huang said.

He said the late Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫), former chairman of the Strait Exchange Foundation, and Academia Sinica President Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲) had both served as the nation's representatives at the informal leaders' summits.

"Neither Koo nor Lee were minister in charge of APEC-related economic affairs, proving that there being no convention regulating Taiwan's participation in the summit," Huang said.

Meanwhile, the Central News Agency (CNA) reported that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said he felt sorry for Wang because the Presidential Office had chosen to announce Wang would be Chen's proxy even though it knew beforehand that China would oppose the idea.

Ma said yesterday that communications between the KMT and China showed that the Presidential Office had learned that China opposed the choice of Wang and yet the Presidential Office insisted on picking Wang.

Ma had previously said the KMT supported Wang's representation and would seek support from China through the private channels between the KMT and Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Yesterday he said the situation had become more difficult once China openly voiced its opposition, the CNA report said.

Asked whether the KMT will continue its lobbying efforts for Wang, Ma said "the communications and negotiations should have taken place earlier in private.

"Now that China has openly opposed it [Wang's appointment], it has become more difficult as it would be hard to ask China to change its mind," he said.

"If the Presidential Office continues to do things like this, the KMT cannot be of any help even if it wanted to be," CNA quoted Ma as saying.

As for whether he could make it to the Busan meeting, Wang yesterday confirmed that the KMT has "activated the KMT-CCP platform" to help negotiate with China over his trip to South Korea.

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