1999 / 10月
Eric Lin /tr. by Brent Heinrich
At the annual APEC forum, held in New Zealand at the beginning of September, officials from both Taiwan and mainland China met in an international conference for the first time since ROC president Lee Teng-hui announced that he considered the two sides to have a "special state-to-state relationship." As expected, the PRC went to considerable efforts to restrict Taiwan's international space. In his meeting with US president Bill Clinton, PRC president Jiang Zemin declared the "special state-to-state" policy to be "intolerable." In addition to applying pressure to Taiwan in APEC meetings, the PRC's Nanjing and Guangzhou Military Regions held joint amphibious military maneuvers while the conference was in progress, aimed at disrupting Taiwan's financial order. In the midst of this hostile environment, what changes have come about to Taiwan's prospects of entering the World Trade Organization (WTO) by year's end?
At the beginning of September, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum was held in Auckland, New Zealand. Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) chairman Chiang Ping-kun represented president Lee Teng-hui at the conference. However, in Taiwan the focus of all attention was on the results of the Clinton-Jiang Zemin summit, and whether both Taiwan and mainland China could smoothly enter the WTO by the end of the year.
The Clinton-Jiang meeting gave the appearance that the US was in fact leaning slightly toward the PRC. Clinton commented to Jiang that Lee Teng-hui's "state-to-state" comments had "made things more difficult" for both Washington and Beijing. But he also reiterated that the US policy of "one China" was based upon "dialogue" and "peaceful resolution." In terms of military issues, Clinton insisted upon long-standing US positions. He plainly warned Jiang Zemin of "grave consequences" if China used force against Taiwan. Although Jiang Zemin would not agree, the United States would continue to provide Taiwan with defensive military aid on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act.
PRC State Council vice-premier Qian Qichen described Clinton's statement that the "special state-to-state policy" was troublesome to both China and the US as realistic, said he was guardedly optimistic toward US-PRC relations, and happy that negotiations regarding PRC entry into the WTO had resumed.
CEPD chairman Chiang Ping-kun, representing Taiwan at the APEC forum, responded that the "special state-to-state relationship" was a realistic description of the current situation. "We cannot retract a situation," he said, noting that like Clinton and Jiang, President Lee also seeks dialogue, in the hope of accomplishing peaceful unification within a system of democracy, freedom and equal prosperity.
Not only did mainland China strongly pressure Taiwan through the summit with Bill Clinton, PRC Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan twice contended that Taiwan was only able to participate in APEC and the WTO as a "regional economic entity" and a "special customs zone," thus belittling the ROC's national sovereignty.
In fact, the various statements made by PRC officials at APEC were unsurprising. What was unexpected and regrettable was the lopsided bias toward mainland China displayed by New Zealand Foreign Minister Don McKinnon. At a joint ministerial press conference, he prevented ROC Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Chih-kang from speaking, while allowing PRC officials to answer in his place, and he prevented Taiwan reporters from speaking on several occasions. In addition, McKinnon publicly announced that APEC has 21 members, but China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are a "special case." Therefore, only China, which he viewed as representative, was invited to attend discussions of political subjects. The ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed deep dissatisfaction with this comment, and issued a protest to New Zealand.
Upon his return from New Zealand, Wang Chih-kang commented that mainland China's pressure against Taiwan was "constantly mounting." Even though APEC leaders hinted their support for both sides of the Taiwan Strait entering the WTO by year's end, Wang felt that the future would be "hard to predict." In particular, Taiwan should prepare early on to respond to politically disruptive activities from Beijing.