Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Taiwan blames China for ouster from steel talks

TAIPEI — The Taiwanese government has lodged “solemn” protests against China, Belgium and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) after Taiwan was pressured to pull out of an international symposium on the steel industry this week in Brussels, part of an apparent hardening of Beijing’s attitude towards the island it claims as its own territory.

TAIPEI — The Taiwanese government has lodged “solemn” protests against China, Belgium and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) after Taiwan was pressured to pull out of an international symposium on the steel industry this week in Brussels, part of an apparent hardening of Beijing’s attitude towards the island it claims as its own territory.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry asked the Mainland Affairs Council, the island’s representative office in Belgium and its diplomatic mission in France, where the OECD is based, to lodge protests respectively with the three entities, said a Taiwanese official yesterday.

“We find it unacceptable,” said Mr Michael Hsu, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of International Organizations, at a press conference.

Mr Hsu said Taiwan has been taking part in the OECD Steel Committee meeting as an observer since 2005 and as a participant since 2013, so it should have been able to attend the committee meeting as scheduled.

In addition to the committee meeting, the OECD had also co-organised with Belgian authorities the High-Level Symposium on Excess Capacity and Structural Adjustment in the Steel Sector in Brussels on Monday.

While the Taiwanese delegation attended the morning session of the symposium, China pressured the Belgian government to deny Taiwan’s participation in the afternoon session, claiming that the level of Taiwan’s representative planning to attend the meeting was “not high enough”, said Ms Eleanor Wang, spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry.

The meeting brought together ministers and “other high-level government officials” in charge of industrial and trade policies related to steel from OECD and non-OECD economies, said the international economic organisation on its website.

The Taiwanese delegation was led by Mr Shen Wei-chen, director general of the Economic Ministry’s Metal and Mechanical Industries Division, while the Chinese delegation was led by Assistant Minister of Commerce Zhang Ji.

Dismissing China’s claim as “a mere excuse”, Mr Hsu told Kyodo News that Mr Zhang’s official title may sound impressive but is actually “pretty much the same” as Mr Shen’s.

“Besides, China did not have any problem with our participation in the event last time,” said Mr Hsu.

He declined to speculate on whether China’s move was targeted at the incoming Democratic Progressive Party administration.

But Beijing appears to be stepping up efforts to put pressure on the independence-leaning party before President-elect Tsai Ing-wen takes office on May 20.

Ms Tsai and her party do not recognise the so-called “1992 consensus” on the “one China” principle, which outgoing President Ma Ying-jeou’s Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Communist Party of China consider as the political foundation for cross-strait talks.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned: “If the foundation is undermined, the ground will shake”, referring to the 1992 consensus.

While Ms Tsai has so far summed up her China policy as being to “maintain the status quo” across the Taiwan Strait, many have questioned how she can put it into practice.

Taiwan and China have been governed separately since they split amid a civil war in 1949. Beijing has since endeavoured to isolate Taiwan, which it regards as a renegade province awaiting reunification. KYODO NEWS

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.

Aa