During an e-mail interview with the Central News Agency (CNA) earlier this month, in which the expected benefits of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed by Taipei and Beijing were discussed, WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy was quoted as referring to Taiwan not by its official designation at the trade organization, but rather as “Chinese Taipei.” \nWire searches returned the key two entries — one, the original interview in English, and the other a Chinese translation of that interview. \nIn the English article, titled “ECFA will help Taiwan integrate into global economy: WTO,” CNA quotes Lamy as saying: “Now, the ECFA is an important initiative in this endeavor and we think it could considerably improve cross-strait relations and can be very important for ensuring the competitiveness of domestic industries and further integrate Chinese Taipei into the world economy.” \nMeanwhile, the Chinese version avoided direct mention of the national title [「現在，ECFA在這些努力中是一個重要作為，我們認為可以相當程度地改善兩岸關係，對確保國內產業競爭力及進一步納入世界經濟也是非常重要」]. \nI have since learned from a contact at CNA that throughout the interview, CNA reporters always referred to Taiwan as “Taiwan,” while Lamy invariably referred to it as “Chinese Taipei.” He did not even use Taiwan’s official name as a WTO member, the (admittedly tongue-twisting) Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu, or a more convenient shorthand, such as Republic of China. \n The CNA reporters’ insistence on referring to Taiwan by its proper name, and use of the word Taiwan in its headlines, is commendable, especially in light of the pro-KMT management at the top of the news organization. \nThe CNA sources also say that “Chinese Taipei” is the name the WTO usually uses in interviews and documents. The WTO Web site’s list of 153 members uses the designation “Chinese Taipei,” although in alphabetical terms it falls under “T.” \nThe “Chinese Taipei” page, meanwhile, refers to Taiwan as the “Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu (Chinese Taipei) and the WTO,” with most links to articles and documents using “Chinese Taipei.” \nThe “Chinese Taipei” designation is obviously a concession on the part of the WTO to please Beijing, and raises questions about the world body’s ability to properly “review” the ECFA documents that, once translated into English, Taipei and Beijing will be submitting to it. \nBy its mandate, the WTO should be treating Taiwan and China as two distinct, sovereign entities in ensuring that the ECFA respects WTO regulations. \nHowever, the organization’s fuzziness on Taiwan’s name and ostensible willingness to yield to pressure from Beijing highlights the very real possibility that in reviewing the ECFA, the WTO could regard the matter as a domestic one, or at minimum be extremely reluctant to raises issues with some of the clauses. \nEither way, this bodes ill for Taiwanese sovereignty, even if only at the symbolic level. Some Taiwanese media have already speculated that at a more personal level, Lamy regards the deal as a domestic one. \nIf Lamy’s were the guiding policy at the WTO, then the body’s “review” of the ECFA would be meaningless, as the WTO can only intervene in trade matters involving two sovereign states. \nE-mails to Mr. Lamy’s office went unanswered. \nJ. Michael Cole is deputy news editor at the Taipei Times.
The small Baltic nation of Lithuania last week announced that it would accept a Taiwanese representative office in its capital, Vilnius, and that it would establish its own trade office in Taiwan by the end of the year. This was more than a welcome announcement to Taiwan and goes far beyond the normal establishment of trade relations. Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis summed it up succinctly, boldly saying: “Freedom-loving people should look out for each other.” With these words, Landsbergis was purposefully going beyond normal diplomacy; he was also presenting a moral challenge and reminder to other democratic nations. A look
On a peaceful day in the open Pacific Ocean to the east of Taiwan, a US carrier and five accompanying warships were slowly sailing to guard the western Pacific. Another carrier battle group had just returned to its home port in San Diego. Suddenly, alarms went off as many intercontinental ballistic missiles were launched from the interior of China, flying toward Taiwan. Numerous Chinese warships, carriers, fighter jets, bombers and submarines were fast converging on the US ships. Not too long after, missiles, bombs and torpedoes were fired at the US carrier. The surprise to Americans was the number of
I was a bit startled last week when Legislative Yuan Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃) suggested that the United States could extend official recognition to an independent Taiwan if China were to launch an invasion. While I think Speaker You is correct, I am not sure it is a helpful point of view. Naturally, there are contingency plans in Washington on diplomatic actions that could deter Chinese military action, but they contemplate the continuity of a democratic Taiwanese government that could survive offshore in exile if part or all of Taiwan is occupied by communist Chinese forces. China’s threat that “Taiwan
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) unscheduled visit to Tibet on July 20 attracted extensive international attention. Although Chinese media said that Xi’s visit was meant to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the accession of Tibet to China, Tibet has remained a politically charged issue for China as well as the international community. The genesis of the turbulent ties between Tibet and China dates back to 1951, when the Chinese regime annexed Tibet through a seven-point agreement. China has used this agreement as proof of its sovereignty over Tibet. Tibetans argue that they were forced to sign the agreement, leading them