Mon, Mar 07, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Conduct of WTO mission defended after moniker row

SPURIOUS CHARGES A representative to the trade body and MOFA dismissed criticisms that Taiwan's interests weren't being protected

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The country's permanent mission to the WTO yesterday rebuttal some Taiwanese officials' allegation that it shamefully compromised the nation's rights when negotiating the mission's title with the trade body.

In a legislative question-and-answer session on Friday, Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Lai Hsin-yuan (賴幸媛) asked Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) to investigate why the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) commanded the country's WTO officials to give up their titles.

The WTO has not updated its directory since October 2002 because of a row between China and Taiwan over the latter's official title in the body, which is named the "Permanent Mission of the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu."

China, which seeks to lower Taiwan's status to that of Hong Kong and Macau in the WTO, has attempted to alter the name of Taiwan's permanent mission and the way Taiwanese diplomats are addressed in the body.

The WTO, which is slated to publish an updated directory this month after more than two year's delay, will probably remove any word that contains sovereignty connotations from the title of the Taiwan mission, the Taiwan Association of University Professors (TAUP) said at a press conference yesterday.

The status of the Taiwan mission in the WTO, which is equivalent to that of an embassy, will be damaged after the publication of the new directory, the association warned.

"This is a result of collaboration between China and WTO Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi and the improper response of the Taiwanese government," the association added.

"If Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) compromised on Taiwan's national status in response to Supachai's behavior, Taiwan will lose its status in the only international organization that recognizes its sovereignty. People will blame the wrongdoing on the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government," said Tai Pao-tsun (戴寶村), president of the TAUP.

Some diplomats at the Taiwan mission in the WTO are not doing their job properly, which has jeopardized the country's status in the international body, said Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲), former director-general of the Department of Health, at TAUP's press conference.

MOFA spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) yesterday dismissed the criticisms and stressed that the ministry did not command Taiwanese diplomats to give up their titles in the WTO, which were conferred on them by the Swiss government.

"Although China tried to lower Taiwan's status, our country's status and rights have not been affected after efforts made by our government and the WTO mission," Lu said.

A senior Taiwanese diplomat in the WTO said yesterday that Supachai expressed deep regret over the Taiwanese press' negative coverage of his work in the WTO.

Describing Supachai as a "mature politician" devoted to creating a harmonious environment for meetings and procedures within the WTO, the diplomat, requesting anonymity, noted that Supachai is sufficiently aware of sensitive political issues between WHO member states.

The diplomat said the final decision on the title of the Taiwan mission in the new WTO directory has not been made.

"Most WTO members agreed that the result needs to be acceptable to the countries involved," the diplomat added.

The diplomat said the publication date of the new WTO directory has not been set and defended the country's permanent representative to the WTO Yen Ching-chang (顏慶章).

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