Saturday, November 19, 2005

Taiwan's Representive at APEC

The Asia-Pacific Ecconomic Cooperation (APEC) is one of the few international organizations in which Taiwan is allowed to participate. Because the forum consists of "member economies," not countries, China has no objection to Taiwan's participation as "Chinese Taipei." Hong Kong is also a member.*

The challenge for Taipei is choosing a representative. President Chen Shui-bian would never be allowed to attend as Taiwan's representative, for example. At this year's summit, Taipei was represented by Lin Hsin-yi, an economic advisor to President Chen. Chen had initially chosen Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, who was rejected by South Korea, the events host, at China's request.

During the 2001 APEC meeting in Shanghai, Lin was prevented from speaking multiple times by Chinese foreign minister Tang Jiaxuan. In Seoul this week, however, the Chinese representatives were much more polite. Chinese President Hu Jintao shook Lin's hand and introduced Lin to his wife as "Mr. Lin Hsin-yi from Taiwan."

Even more noteworthy is Lin's meeting with Japan. This is the first APEC meeting since the US and Japan released their common strategic objectives, which included
Encourage the peaceful resolution of issues concerning the Taiwan Strait through dialogue.

That February pronouncement was the first time Japan has included Taiwan in its security objectives and Lin sought to maximize on that shift during his APEC visit. As the Taipei Times reported:
Sources said that Lin had a private meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi yesterday morning. Lin probed the possibility of Japan establishing a Taiwan Relations Act, similar to that of the US, in order to improve relations with Taipei.

While there are those in Japan agitating for such a security guarantee, I doubt it will amount to anything.

*Another organization that "Chinese Taipei" has been able to join is the World Trade Organization. Taipei entered as a "separate customs territory."