As soon as the proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) clarifies its organizational structure and regulations, the government will review the proposal evaluation and seek to join the China-led institution on an equal footing and with mutual respect, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Andrew Hsia (夏立言) said yesterday.
Hsia made the remarks in response to lawmakers’ questions during a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Internal Administration Committee in Taipei.
The AIIB and China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative might provide business opportunities for Taiwan, Hsia said.
However, the Republic of China (ROC) needs to consider the questions of equal status and mutual respect and would only seek to join if those can be met, he said.
“One Belt” refers to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) proposed “New Silk Road economic belt” that would link China with Europe through Central and Western Asia. “One Road” is short for Xi’s “21st century Maritime Silk Road,” which focuses on nations bordering the Indian Ocean’s shipping lanes through the Strait of Malacca to India, the Middle East and East Africa.
As President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has said that Taiwan “should actively take part instead of staying on the sidelines” of the AIIB, Hsai said that “we will not be absent [from the bank].”
The Executive Yuan yesterday convened a meeting to discuss whether Taiwan should seek to join the AIIB and its relationships with other members if it does so, and opinions gathered during the meeting would be forwarded to senior officials for a final decision, Hsia said.
Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) and Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) panned Ma for “acting like a runaway wild horse” by deciding on his own that Taiwan should join the AIIB before the government has reached a consensus on the issue.
Earlier this month, Minister of Finance Chang Sheng-ford (張盛和) and Financial Supervisory Commission Chairman Tseng Ming-chung (曾銘宗) told lawmakers that they felt participating in the AIIB might benefit Taiwan’s economic and financial development. Central bank Governor Perng Fai-nan (彭淮南) also backed seeking membership.
Speaking at the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan on Sunday, China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits Chairman Chen Deming (陳德銘) said that China does not feel there should be a problem with Taiwan’s proposed entry to the AIIB.
Applications to join the AIIB are primarily conducted by China’s Ministry of Finance, Chen said.
However, generally speaking, he, along with China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) and Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅), did not think Taiwan would have trouble joining the AIIB, Chen said.
Asked whether Taiwan should join the AIIB using the title “Chinese Taipei,” Chen said he had not considered the question, but that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait could discuss related issues based on precedent.
Wang has previously said a Taiwanese application should be dealt with in accordance with international practices.
Taiwan competes in the Olympics as “Chinese Taipei” and it joined the WTO under the name of the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu.
The AIIB is expected to be launched by the end of this year.
Additional reporting by Peng Hsien-chun
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