Writer's Block

The USA is the place I was born. Canada is the place I was raised. Taiwan is the place in my heart.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Another blow to Taiwan...

In the Taipei Times today:

WTO diplomats under pressure

TITLE DISPUTE: The nation's WTO representatives may have to accept changes to their titles amid protests by China, the minister of foreign affairs said yesterday
By Melody Chen
STAFF REPORTER
Thursday, Mar 17, 2005,Page 3

Under tremendous pressure from China, Taiwan's permanent mission to the WTO may be forced to compromise on the two most important titles conferred on its diplomats by the Swiss government, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen said yesterday.

In a legislative question-and-answer session, Chen said Taiwan might agree to compromise on the titles of "ambassador" and "minister," which were respectively conferred on Yen Ching-chang, the country's permanent representative to the WTO, and John Deng, his deputy.

The WTO Secretariat, which is slated to publish a new directory this month, will possibly change the titles of top Taiwanese diplomats in the trade body.

The directory has not been updated for more than two years because of a row between Beijing and Taipei over how the Taiwanese mission and its diplomats should be addressed in the WTO.

Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Lai Hsin-yuan asked the minister why he consented to compromise on the titles, noting it is valid for Taiwanese diplomats to use the titles because the country enjoys full membership in the WTO.

Over the past two years, Lai said, the WTO Secretariat, though facing great pressure from China, had not updated its directory.

"This is because Taiwan has communicated with other WTO member states on the issue. We have successfully lobbied them over the two years. Why can't we [continue] to do that?" she asked.

Lai, a former senior adviser at the National Security Council, was involved in handling the country's disputes with China over the titles of Taiwan's WTO diplomats.

Yen reportedly returned to Taipei several months ago seeking help over the row with China.

The legislator said US and EU officials told her Taiwan would not be able to hold its positions on many international occasions if it compromises on the title issue.

In response, Chen said the final version of the new directory has not been decided but stressed he has asked Yen to never compromise on the title "permanent representative."

"Yen's report pointed out that Taiwan's rights in the WTO would not be jeopardized even if we compromise on the titles of `ambassador' and `minister,'" Chen said.

"If I had a choice, I would not instruct [Yen] to compromise on the matter," the minister said. "The ministry has to face the reality in the international realm, while firmly guarding the rights Taiwan is entitled to enjoy in the international community."

Yen was not available for comment yesterday.

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