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Tue, Feb 13, 2001 - Page 4 News List

Taiwan should consider hosting APEC: analysts


Taiwan should apply to host to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) as part of its effort to stress its "equal" participation in the grouping despite China's indirect hint last Sunday that the nation was not entitled to host the APEC leaders' annual summit, analysts said yesterday.

"Taiwan should make its case [for hosting the summit] to emphasize its right as a member of APEC to host the meeting but it should avoid overtly politicizing the issue," said Philip Yang (楊永明), political analyst at National Taiwan University.

"Now that the issue has been brought up, the government should remind the group's other members of the nature of APEC, Taiwan's ability to take part in the regional grouping, as well as its right as a member economy to host the meeting," Yang said.

Yang's comment came as a response to a related statement made by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Guangya (王光亞) on Sunday when he hosted the opening of APEC's senior officials' meeting in Beijing.

Wang said APEC already assigned host countries for the following few years, and Taiwan had not made any related application.

Wang, in his capacity as the 2001 APEC senior officials' meeting chairman, also claimed that APEC members should consider Taiwan's application "in accordance with the 1991 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)."

But Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and political analysts pointed out that the related memorandum did not touch upon whether Taiwan is entitled to host the APEC summit.

"The 1991 MOU only states that Taiwan's foreign minister as well as vice foreign minister are banned from attending any APEC meetings. The documents also state that Taiwan should take part in APEC under the title of "Chinese Taipei." The ban on Taiwan's president and vice president has been in place since US' former president Bill Clinton suggested and then hosted the first summit of APEC leaders in 1993.

In Seoul in mid-October 1991, both China and Taiwan signed respective memorandums with South Korea prior to the admission of China, Taiwan and Hong Kong into the regional group later that year. It was the first occasion in which the three met in an official, multilateral capacity.

"APEC's decision is based on a consensus ... no single member has the right to deny other members' rights and opportunities," Yang added.

A foreign ministry official confirmed yesterday that Taiwan had not applied to host an APEC summit, and admitted that China's move to block Taiwan's application was expected.

Analysts warned, however, that Wang's statement might be indicative of China's ambition, by utilizing its status as this year's host country, to convince APEC members to block Taiwan's right to become an APEC host country.

The ninth APEC leaders' summit is to be held in Shanghai in October.

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