The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday rebutted a report in yesterday’s Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) alleging that Taiwan’s representative to Indonesia was forced to leave a promotional event in October quietly through the back door after the Chinese ambassador threatened to boycott the event if the Taiwanese delegation stayed.
Quoting Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯), who claimed to have heard the news first-hand from Taiwan’s representative to Indonesia, Timothy Yang (楊進添), the report said Yang was invited by the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to attend a promotional event for orchids, but was asked to leave because the Chinese ambassador refused to appear at the same venue as the Taiwanese diplomat.
Tsai said such incidents proved that President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) so-called “diplomatic truce” with Beijing was useless and not at all reciprocated by Beijing.
Acting spokesman James Chang (章計平), however, said the report was false and that Yang was able to attend the entire event.
Chang said that prior to the event, Yang was scheduled to be seated on the right-hand side of the aisle as a distinguished guest. However, the Chinese delegation complained that the right-hand side was reserved for members of the diplomatic corps whose countries enjoy official diplomatic relations with Indonesia and that Yang should therefore be moved.
Refusing to disclose the manner in which the Chinese protested, Chang said the Chinese simply “said that the arrangement [for Yang’s seating] was inappropriate.”
Yang was eventually asked to move to the left-hand side of the aisle and was seated with other important guests and stayed throughout the event.
Chang said the event took place in October, only five months after Ma came into office. The incident should therefore not be used to disparage the effectiveness of Ma’s truce, he said, adding that the public should look forward to forging a better relation with China.
Asked for comment, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) criticized the government’s diplomatic strategy, saying that the “diplomatic truce” had turned into “diplomatic humiliation.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY FLORA WANG