Stressing that Taiwan will not skip the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Busan later this month, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) indicated he may drop Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (
Chen selected Wang to represent him at this year's annual meeting, but Wang's presence has been blocked by China, and by the summit host South Korea. China has demanded that Taiwan send someone with a deeper economics background instead.
Chen made the remarks while receiving Kim Young-sam (金泳三), former president of South Korea.
While meeting with Kim, Chen said he felt sorry that Wang had been rejected by South Korea, which has been under pressure from China.
"However, an envoy of Taiwan's leader will not be absent from the summit," Chen said. "I do hope that the South Korean government will treat my envoy courteously."
Chen did not say who a possible replacement for Wang might be. The summit is scheduled to be held on Nov. 18 and Nov. 19.
This is Kim's third visit to Taiwan since he stepped down from the presidency in 1997. In 1993, Kim became the first civilian president of South Korea since General Park Chung-hee seized power in 1961.
In July, Chen expressed his willingness to attend the summit himself to envoys sent by President Roh Moo-hyun.
However, China quickly nixed the idea.
APEC was specifically designed as an international group of economies, and not countries, under an agreement that allowed both Taiwan and China to be members. However, China has still blocked Taiwan's president from attending APEC meetings, threatening to boycott such events if it doesn't get its way.
In August and September, Chen repeated that he was determined to attend the summit, and urged South Korea to respect the equality of all member economies of APEC. Chen did not designate Wang as his envoy until early last month, when the South Korean government officially rejected his request to attend the summit.
Later last month, South Korea -- echoing China's complaints -- expressed its concerns over Wang's unfamiliarity with economic issues and suggested that Taiwan send a new envoy. Chen stressed then that Taiwan would keep holding discussions with South Korea on sending Wang to the summit.
In the past three years, Academia Sinica President Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲), a co-winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in chemistry has represented Chen at the annual APEC leaders meeting. Lee said last month that he had told Chen he did not wish to be his envoy this year.