Chinese pressure most in a decade: MOFA

By Su Yung-yao and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Sun, Mar 11, 2018 - Page 3

There were 42 instances of China interfering in the nation’s foreign affairs last year, the most in a single year for the past decade, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Areas in which China exercised this interference included political and economic exchanges, as well as cultural events, the ministry said, adding that it expects Beijing to increase its pressure on Taiwan over the coming year.

Aside from poaching the nation’s diplomatic allies, including Panama, which severed ties with Taiwan in June last year, China has also been putting pressure on non-official exchanges with other nations, the ministry said.

For example, China pressured Nigeria in January last year into demanding that Taiwan’s representative office there change its name and relocate outside of its capital, Abuja, the ministry said.

This was followed by Beijing demanding that the nation’s representative offices in Ecuador, Jordan, Bahrain and Dubai also change their names, the ministry said, adding that in May last year pressure from China prevented Taiwan from attending the World Health Assembly (WHA) as an observer and Taiwanese reporters were not allowed access to the meeting.

China is expected to obstruct Taiwan’s attendance as an observer at this year’s WHA meeting as well, the ministry said.

Also in May last year, an invitation extended to Taiwanese to attend a meeting of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in Australia as “honored guests” was withdrawn at the last minute due to pressure from China, the ministry said.

The scheme was established in 2003 by the UN to prevent “conflict diamonds” from entering the mainstream rough diamond market.

In June last year, the Taiwanese Students’ Association at Germany’s Hanover University had to change its name on a banner at the group’s booth for an international festival at the school, after Chinese students complained about the use of the name “Taiwan,” the ministry said.

Republic of China citizens have also been denied entry to the UN headquarters building in New York City as visitors since June last year, the ministry said, adding that the building has put up a sign at the request of Beijing advising Taiwanese who wish to enter to apply to the Chinese government for a Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents (台灣人民來往大陸通行證).

Another example of China interfering with Taiwan’s foreign affairs was when it pressured international companies, such as Malaysian low-cost air carrier Air Asia-X, to require that their Taiwanese flight crew list their home country with the code CHN instead of TWN, the ministry said, adding that the Chinese government has since forced numerous carriers operating within China to follow the same requirement.