The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) rebutted a Chinese official's remarks which downgraded Taiwan's status in APEC to that of a "regional economy" and stressed that the nation has been a full member of the economic forum since joining it in 1991.
Last week, when asked to comment on President Chen Shui-bian's special APEC envoy Morris Chang (張忠謀), Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai (崔天凱) said at a Beijing press conference that Taiwan, which Cui referred to as "Chinese Taipei" participates in APEC simply as a "regional economy."
Cui also said that APEC has a clear regulation made in the memorandum of understanding in terms of the delegate that Taiwan should assign.
"Chinese Taipei can only assign officials of ministerial level that are in charge of economic affairs, and APEC has reached a customary rule in terms of this issue," Cui said.
On Friday evening, in response to China's comments, MOFA issued a news release claiming the Chinese official had been dishonest.
"What China said does not conform with the facts," the ministry said.
The news release pointed out that Taiwan entered APEC in 1991 as a "full member" and China joined it in the same year.
"All the members of APEC are classified as having their own economy. There is no such term as `regional economy' to refer to any APEC member," the ministry said.
Following a US suggestion, in 1993 APEC held an economic leaders' meeting and Taiwan has never agreed that its president would waive the right to join this meeting since Taiwan was admitted as a full member in 1991, the ministry said.
From the very beginning, Taiwan has maintained that the president of Taiwan should attend this economic leaders' meeting in person. However, because of China's oppression and obstruction, Taiwanese presidents have sent special envoys to the meeting in consideration of the integral harmony of APEC, the ministry said.
The ministry pointed out that Taiwanese delegates enjoy the same treatment and have equal status to representatives of other economies and China's claim that APEC has a rule for Taiwan to assign only a ministerial-level delegate is a distortion of Taiwan's goodwill to the economic forum.