The cartoon figure of President Chen Shui-bian (
The cartoon figure of Chen was put on display yesterday at the APEC Summit Cartoon Figure Exhibition in Busan City -- the venue of this year's annual event -- along with those of other heads of state slated to attend the APEC summit in November.
The exhibition started on Monday in Busan City, but until yesterday the cartoon representing Taiwan was that of Academia Sinica President Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲). Lee, a co-winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in chemistry, has represented Chen at the annual APEC leadership meeting for the past three years.
APEC is one of the few international organizations to admit both Taipei and Beijing. But because of Beijing's opposition, Taiwan's head of state has never been allowed to attend any of the previous informal leadership meetings and has instead had to name a proxy to attend on his behalf.
On insisting that the cartoon of Chen be displayed at the show, Taiwanese officials in South Korea maintained that the nature of such an exhibition was cultural, and had nothing to do with political activities.
They also said that since the exhibition was going to feature the caricatures of national leaders participating in the APEC summit, and as Chen has yet to decide if he will attend, the South Korean government should respect "Chinese Taipei" as an economy.
Prior to the cartoon figure exhibition, the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs had already pointed out that the cartoon figures on display should be of national leaders who will participate in the APEC summit, adding that exhibiting the cartoon figure of one who is unable to attend the meeting was simply inappropriate.