Former vice president Lien Chan (連戰), who served as President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) envoy to the APEC summit in Yokohama, Japan, over the weekend, yesterday dismissed criticism that Taiwan would be denigrating itself if it “communicated” with China on its wish to participate in international events or organizations.
However, one of the nation’s top officials on non-governmental organization (NGO) affairs did not agree.
Lien said some people mistook or misconstrued what Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) called “communications” between Taipei and Beijing as just a one-way street, while in effect they were bilateral.
“There was no such thing as self-deprecation, because the communications were conducted under the principles of dignity, reciprocity and equality,” Lien said.
“The two sides discuss issues based on facts rather than emotion, so we can avoid wasting our energy on internal friction or upsetting each other,” he said.
Lien made the remarks during a press conference at the Presidential Office after briefing Ma on his APEC trip, which he described as “successful.”
Lien said Taiwan’s desire to participate in international organizations and activities would require that Taipei and Beijing communicate and negotiate.
The situation has improved over the past two years, Lien said, citing the examples of the country’s participation — as an observer — at the World Health Assembly, as well as in the Government Procurement Agreement and APEC.
Lien said he mentioned the matter to Hu during their meeting on Saturday, and Hu replied the two sides should negotiate to avoid unnecessary trouble.
Ma told Lien yesterday that many Taiwanese and civic groups were concerned about international participation and that his administration would make an effort to address the problem.
Not everybody agrees with Lien’s assessment.
Wu Rong-chuan (吳榮泉), vice chairman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ NGO Affairs Committee, denied that Taipei would negotiate with Beijing about Taiwan’s participation in international NGOs and activities.
“The Republic of China is a sovereign country. Negotiation on this subject is out of the question,” he said.
On the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Ma said it was the administration’s policy to join the pan-regional free-trade agreement. As interested economies planned to meet in New Zealand next month to discuss the issue, Lien urged the administration to pay close attention to those developments.
Lien said he told world leaders during the TPP negotiations, including US President Barack Obama, that he hoped to see “open regionalism” and for Taiwan to have “broadly based participation.”
Four countries have signed up for the TPP — Brunei, Chile, Singapore and New Zealand — but five others are in talks to join the group: the US, Australia, Malaysia, Peru and Vietnam. The pact would require members to drop tariffs and other trade barriers.
On the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) that Taipei and Beijing signed in June, Lien said his “impression” was that Beijing also wanted to expedite negotiations on subsequent agreements.
The pact stipulates that the two sides should begin negotiating four more agreements after the ECFA comes into force, covering traded goods, trade in services, investment protection and economic cooperation.
Meanwhile, since the Chinese Communist Party will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Wuchang Revolution next year, Lien said that revolution “bore historic significance for the Chinese nation” because the Qing Dynasty was overthrown and the Republic of China (ROC) established, moving one more step toward Sun Yat-sen’s (孫中山) ideal of invigorating the “Chinese nation.”
Lien said although Taipei and Beijing could not hold joint celebrations to commemorate the Wuchang Revolution, the ROC would “reach the same goal by different means,” since the government will mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the ROC next year through a series of activities and events.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHIH HSIU-CHUAN AND STAFF WRITER
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