Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) yesterday was noncommittal on the possibility of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) attending this year’s APEC leaders’ summit, which would be a first for a Republic of China (ROC) president.
Lin said Ma has yet to decide whether he will attend the forum or designate a special envoy to represent him, as has been done in the past.
The Chinese-language China Times yesterday reported that the Ma administration has formulated a plan for Ma to participate in the Oct. 7 and Oct. 8 summit in Bali, Indonesia, instead of sending a representative.
According to the newspaper, the US has no objection to Ma’s attendance, nor does Beijing. If Ma did attend, he could possibly meet Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).
The date for a special envoy from Indonesia to visit Taipei to deliver an invitation to the summit to Ma has not yet been set either, Lin said.
An announcement will be made by Ma when the time is appropriate, the minister said in response to reporters’ questions on the sidelines of a forum.
APEC held its first leader’s summit in 1993, when the US was host.
Since 1994, it has been the established APEC practice for the host country to send a representative to Taipei to deliver an invitation to the president to attend the summit.
The president would then decline the invitation and appoint an envoy to go in his stead.
The ROC and the People’s Republic of China both joined the organization in 1991, with Taiwan participating as “Chinese Taipei.” Beijing has always objected to Taiwan’s president attending the leadership summits.
The newspaper said that if Ma decided not go to Bali, there would be a significantly greater chance of him attending next year’s summit in Shanghai, or the 2015 summit in Manila.
Later yesterday, Ma told the TVBS during an interview that there is a lack of the necessary conditions for him to attend the APEC summit this year, but he will continue his efforts to create the conditions.
Asked why China was still opposed to his attendance at the APEC summit given rapprochement in cross-strait relations, Ma said it was the “international reality” that an ROC president’s presence would result in absence of some heads of state of APEC members.
“We are not able to turn the reality upside down,” Ma said.
He said that China has never relented on its stance on Taiwan in international arenas.