Thu, Nov 27, 2003 - Page 3 News List

DPP slams China's WTO moves

IDENTITY ISSUES Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim described Beijing's efforts to eliminate the titles of Taiwan's government agencies in WTO documentation as `outrageous'

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday strongly protested China's attempts to get the WTO to downgrade the title of Taiwan's government agencies in the documentation of the nation's legal regulations sent as notification to the body.

This is the second time this year China has pressured the world trade body, after it demanded in July that the WTO downgrade Taiwan's representation from the permanent mission to a trade office such as Hong Kong's.

Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), director of the DPP's International Affairs Department, told the Taipei Times yesterday that last year China began demanding the WTO secretariat downgrade Taiwan's representation name and recently it intensified its actions by asking that all titles of government agencies containing references to Taiwan as a sovereign state to be omitted in trade documentation circulated by Taiwan's mission, including such terms as Presidential Office, the Executive Yuan, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Council of Agriculture.

"Beijing's demand is outra-geous," Hsiao said. "The Presidential Office is the Presidential Office. What else can we call it?"

"This is a very serious issue as it would block Taiwan's progress in participating in the international treaties. It not only affects Tai-wan's international participation, but also damages the interest of foreign investors who expects Taiwan to join in the related international economic and trade treaties so that they could better and fairly understand Taiwan's domestic investment environment," she told the Taipei Times.

"China's moves to denigrate Taiwan's place in the international community are getting more and more persistent and frequent," Hsiao said.

Hsiao said the name of the governmental agency, such as the Public Construction Commission, an agency that is involved in major government procurement projects, cannot be removed from legal documents, because this would undermine the legality of the nation's laws and national sovereignty.

Hsiao stressed that the Republic of China is an independent sovereign state.

"This is a stark reality. Beijing cannot deny this truth," she said.

When contacted by phone by the Taipei Times yesterday, sources in Taiwan's WTO mission in Geneva said the office and the WTO Secretariat are still tackling the problem.

"There is no such problem as Taiwan's governmental agency's name change in the legal documentation. All the legal documentation, passed by Taiwan's legislature cannot be altered in any way when presented as a notification to the WTO," the source said.

"We have clearly expressed our stance to WTO Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi, who has accepted our causes and said he would come up with an objective and neutral judgment," the source said.

"We believe Supachai will tackle the matter objectively, which can be seen from the delay in the printing of the so-called `Blue Book,' a WTO directory which was supposed to be revised in April, following China's attempts to get the organization to change the name of Taiwan's mission early this year," the source said.

Taiwan's permanent representative to the WTO, Yen Ching-chang (顏慶章), was not available yesterday to comment on the dispute.

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