Amid speculation that Beijing would object to the presence of former vice premier Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) as Taiwan's representative to the APEC leaders' summit in Sydney, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday that China's suppression of Taiwan goes beyond matters of political affiliation or gender.
"China's oppression has been constant and it has nothing to do with who is in power or what political party you belong to," Chen said. "If [Beijing's opposition to Tsai's participation at the APEC summit] is true, it would demonstrate that its suppression of the country does not have anything to do with whether you are a man or a woman."
Chen made the remarks in Shezi (社子), Taipei City, yesterday afternoon in response to a report published in yesterday's edition of the Chinese-language China Times.
The report said that Chen was considering naming someone else after Beijing had objected to Tsai's appointment as the nation's special envoy to the APEC leaders' summit next month.
Chen did not confirm whether he had appointed Tsai but said the country must not give up simply because of oppression from China. He also urged the government to stick to principles and strive for acceptance.
Acting Presidential Office Secretary-General Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) said Chen was still assessing various options and would name a representative in accordance with the original schedule, preferably before Chen embarks on a journey to Central America on Aug. 20.
Taiwanese presidents have been barred from attending APEC summits because of objections from China. As a result, the president has to appoint a representative to go on his behalf.
Pan-blue camp lawmakers yesterday blamed Chen's proposed referendum on the country's UN bid under the name of "Taiwan" as the reason behind Beijing's opposition.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Tseng Yung-chuan (
"Beijing's reaction does not come as a surprise because the UN bid irked the US and China," Tseng said, adding that he was nevertheless disappointed with the boycott.
People First Party spokesman Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) also blamed Chen, saying that his "improper handling" of the country's bid to join the UN was the cause of Beijing's action.
Lee also slammed China for boycotting Tsai's participation at the summit.
"As the Chinese and Taiwanese economies are closely related, the two sides should talk and help each other," he said. "China will not gain anything by oppressing Taiwan."
Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan