Sun, Jul 25, 2004 - Page 2 News List

MOFA silent over Malaysian ban on visits by officials

STAFF WRITER , WITH AGENCIES

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday declined to comment on media reports that Malaysia has barred its senior government ministers from visiting Taiwan in order to maintain close bilateral ties with China.

Ministry Spokesman Richard Shih (石瑞琦) said "we are still investigating the matter, as we have only received media reports so far."

According to Malaysia's official Bernama news agency, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Friday that ministers have been told not to make official visits to Taiwan, as "it could offend sentiments of the Chinese government."

He said ties between Malaysia and Taiwan were confined to economic and cultural matters, adding that the government fully upheld China's claim that Taiwan is part of its territory.

Najib's announcement came after he held talks on Thursday with China's Central Military Commission Chairman General Guo Boxiong (郭伯雄) at the Defense Ministry in Malaysia.

Guo was heading a delegation of 15 members on a one-day visit to Malaysia.

Najib, who is also Defense Minister, said Guo had said that Beijing wanted countries with which it had diplomatic ties to adhere to the "one China" policy.

"China will appraise [other countries] based on how far they have adopted the `one-China' policy. On the part of Malaysia, we have indeed fully adopted the `one-China' policy," he said.

While the Malaysian government does not have any diplomatic ties with Taiwan, many local businesses have close economic links with the country.

Malaysia's decision to bar senior officials from visiting Taiwan followed in the wake of a diplomatic spat between China and Singapore over a visit paid by the city-state's future prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍), to Taiwan earlier this month.

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