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Sat, Jan 13, 2001 - Page 4 News List

Analyst says China should not hold up Taiwan's WTO bid


A special ex-assistant to former US president Ronald Reagan said on Thursday that the WTO's purpose is economic, not geopolitical; that both China and Taiwan should become WTO members, and that if Beijing lags behind in implementing the reforms necessary for WTO entry, there is no reason to delay Taiwan's WTO accession.

Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Cato Institute, wrote in an essay that the US and other nations should avoid the confrontation that would inevitably result from a formal Taiwanese declaration of independence.

Nevertheless, Bandow said, US government officials "should signal their support for the status quo, the most important aspect of which is Taiwan's separate existence, even if it is not formally recognized as an independent country."

Few dramatic changes in US policy are likely, Bandow said. But one area where a new direction is desirable is China, he said.

Although future developments in the PRC remain uncertain, engagement is more likely to encourage China to be a responsible international player than isolation, Bandow said.

The incoming Bush administration should, however, "suggest dropping the implicit veto granted the PRC over Taiwan's admission to the WTO. With China lagging behind, there is no justification for holding up Taipei's membership application," Bandow wrote.

Taipei has concluded negotiations with individual WTO members and adopted many of the organization's rules. Moreover, the WTO staff has finished most of the accession documents. But, still, Taiwan is unfairly kept waiting for a recalcitrant China to adopt reforms necessary for its WTO entry.

The unfairness to Taiwan is clear, Bandow pointed out. "The incoming Bush administration should suggest that the WTO inform China that it is time to expeditiously wrap up its work by, say, June -- or Taiwan comes in first."

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