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Wednesday, 17 October, 2001, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Taiwan Apec row heads for the wire
Chinese armed soldiers
Security at the meeting is set to be very tight
The deadline for agreement is looming fast over a row on who should represent Taiwan at a meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders in Shanghai this weekend.


We don't have much time left

Taiwanese official
The two-day Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum summit is due to start on 20 October but China is continuing to reject Taiwan's plan to send former Vice President Li Yuan-zu.

China wants Taiwan to stick to precedent and name an economics-related envoy - previously it has sent either its chief economic planner or central bank governor.

Shanghai
China wants to showcase its financial capital
Correspondents say Beijing, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province, does not want Mr Li because they believe his presence signifies a creep towards a higher level of Taiwanese representation at Apec summits.

But on Wednesday, Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Chang Siao-yue said Mr Li remained the island's "sole candidate at this juncture".

'Not fair'

There has been speculation among Taiwanese officials that 78-year-old Mr Li might be named a member of the cabinet's economic planning team, to get round China's objections. Taiwan is running out of time to find a representative acceptable to Beijing.

Apec members
Australia
Brunei
Canada
Chile
China
Hong Kong
Indonesia
Japan
Malaysia
Mexico
New Zealand
Papua New Guinea
Peru
Philippines
Russia
Singapore
South Korea
Taiwan
Thailand
United States
Vietnam

"Whoever represents President Chen must leave for Shanghai on 18 October at the latest," a Taiwanese source told Reuters news agency.

"The envoy needs to meet President Chen and be briefed by a team of national security advisers before leaving.

"This is not fair. We don't have much time left."

It would be a diplomatic breakthrough for politically-isolated Taiwan if Mr Li was able to attend the meeting.

Taiwan joined Apec in 1991 under the label Chinese Taipei. Its status is described as an "economy" - a label designed to get around China's objections to recognising Taiwan as a state.

See also:

17 Oct 01 | Americas
US takes anti-terror drive to Apec
15 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Apec set for summit row
17 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Internet block hits Apec visitors
03 Sep 01 | Business
Banks pull out of Taiwan roadshows
19 Sep 01 | Business
Taiwan wins WTO entry approval
15 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan leader backs trade with China
17 Sep 01 | Business
China enters WTO fold
10 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan denies UN bid threatens China
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