Fri, Sep 26, 2014 - Page 3 News List

‘The Honorable Mister’ and ‘Chinese Taipei’ APEC titles no bother: MOFA

By Alison Hsiao and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Vanessa Shih (史亞平) said yesterday the nation had not been downgraded by the title on the invitation letter to November’s APEC summit in Beijing, in which the president is referred to as “the Honorable Mister” and the “economic leader of Chinese Taipei.”

Shih said the invitation was received at Taipei Guest House by Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) and other council and ministry officials responsible for handling APEC-related affairs.

“The invitation was later handed over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by Wang,” Shih said. “The invitation letter, as in English letter-writing format, has a courtesy title, name and position title on it. The first line reads ‘The Honorable Mr Ma Ying-jeou’ and the second line, where the position title is listed, reads ‘Economic Leader of Chinese Taipei.’”

She said that as the APEC economic leaders’ meeting participants are taking part in the capacity of their countries’ economic leaders, “we consider the titles put down on the invitation acceptable, and there were precedents [of being referred to as such] that could be followed.”

“There is no question of [Taiwan] being relegated by this year’s invitation, be it the courtesy title, position title or the content,” Shih said. “It was decided to be acceptable to both sides after bilateral communication. We will participate [in the meeting] based on the principles of practicality and dignity.”

When asked by reporters whether the title “president” had been used in the precedents, Shih said the title used could “vary every year.”

“There was a time when ‘The Honorable’ was not used in the courtesy title. Both ‘president’ and ‘economic leader’ have been used before,” she said.

During the question-and-answer session at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee on Wednesday, the title “economic leader” was not mentioned when Wang was questioned by Democratic Progressive Legislator Chen Chih-mai (陳其邁), who said that “the Honorable Mister” was a downgraded way of addressing the country’s leader, as “president” had been used before.

Separately, sources said that China has refused National Development Council Minister Kuan Chung-ming’s (管中閔) attendance at the upcoming Beijing meeting, citing “inappropriate” wording of Kuan’s title, more specifically the word “national,” despite Kuan having represented Taiwan at last year’s APEC meeting.

China’s most recent denial to allow Kuan’s attendance may intend to force Taiwan’s hand on the international economy, sources said.

The only thing that changed was that the former Council for Economic Planning and Development had been elevated in administrative status to the National Development Council.

The government is mulling replacing Kuan with Minister of Finance Chang Sheng-ford (張盛和), according to Ministry of Economic Affairs sources.

Meanwhile, sources said that it would be difficult for Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) to retain his “special privileges” of keeping his ministerial title in the meeting.

China also hinted that insistence on the matter might only lead to a stall in talks, the ministry said.

Depriving Taiwan of the presence of its experts on trade and finance at the forum may give China more leverage to pressure Taiwan for political gains, analysts said.

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