Taiwan wants to become an ordinary member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) now that its bid to become a founding member has failed, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said yesterday, citing a consensus reached between the executive and legislative branches of government.
Wang made the announcement following a meeting with Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國), which was also attended by central bank Governor Perng Fai-nan (彭淮南), Minister of Finance Chang Sheng-ford (張盛和), Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂), Mainland Affairs Council Minister Andrew Hsia (夏立言) and legislative caucus leaders.
The meeting was held after China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) said earlier yesterday that Taiwan’s request to become one of the AIIB’s founding members had been rejected.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
Initiated by China, the AIIB is regarded by some as a potential rival to the IMF, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, all of which are institutions dominated by developed nations, such as the US.
Ma, without giving any reasons, yesterday quoted the AIIB’s Multilateral Interim Secretariat as confirming a media report that Taiwan could still become a member of the bank.
The TAO reiterated China’s position that Taiwan would be welcome to join the multilateral development institution “under an appropriate name,” adding that China believes that a way can be found for Taiwan to participate in the AIIB through practical consultation.
Wang yesterday said the rights and obligations of AIIB founding members and ordinary members are the same, except that founding members can take part in the writing of the bank’s charter.
Wang said the government’s bottom line on the name to be used by the government to join the AIIB is “Chinese Taipei,” and it would not accept anything less.
China has blocked the nation’s attempts to take part in international organizations under the name Taiwan or the Republic of China. Taiwan has used “Chinese Taipei” to participate in the Olympic Games and at the World Health Assembly.
Taiwan expressed its intention to take part in the AIIB late last month, just before the deadline for would-be founding members’ applications.
On March 31, Mao said that Taiwan hoped to become a founding member so that it can take part in the writing of the bank’s charter. Only by doing so can Taiwan’s interests be protected, he said.
By applying to become an AIIB member, Taiwan wants to avoid losing out on regional economic activities. The nation is also seeking to join the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade blocs.
Presidential Office spokesman Charles Chen (陳以信) yesterday said that Taiwan would rather stay out of the AIIB unless it is treated with dignity and equality.
While Taiwan believes AIIB membership is good for the nation, it would rather not become a member if its preconditions of dignity and equality are not honored after the nation joins, Chen said.
Executive Yuan spokesman Sun Lih-Chyun (孫立群) expressed regret at the nation’s failure to become a founding member.
The government would closely monitor the writing of the AIIB’s charter to see if it meets principles of dignity and fairness with regard to the admission of new members, Sun said.
The government would also lobby AIIB founding members friendly to Taiwan to help Taiwan gain membership in the bank with dignity, he added.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) criticized the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government over its “rushed” and “irresponsible” decision to apply to join the AIIB.
“This is the result of the [President] Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration’s irresponsible and rushed decision,” DPP spokesperson Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) said. “It did not perform a professional assessment and did not have sufficient communication with the public before deciding to apply to become a founding member — and the rejection has caused harm to the nation.”
Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) also criticized the government, saying that what it did was essentially self-degrading.
“President Ma always talks about participating in international organizations with dignity and equality, but the nation gets humiliated time after time by China and [the government] seems to be quite willing to accept such treatment,” Huang said.
He said that even if Taiwan successfully joins the bank, it would not likely see any actual benefits and its membership would likely be used by China to its advantage.
“The TSU therefore urges the government not to apply to join again,” he said.
Additional reporting by Loa Iok-sin
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