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Friday, 19 October, 2001, 06:21 GMT 07:21 UK
Taiwan pulls out of China meeting
Chinese police, Shanghai
China would not accept Taiwan's nomination
By the BBC's Duncan Hewitt in Shanghai

Taiwan has said it is pulling out of this weekend's Apec meeting of Asia-Pacific economic leaders in Shanghai after a row with China over who should represent Taiwan.

Taiwanese officials accused China of irrational behaviour and unfairness in its refusal to issue a formal invitation to the island's former vice-president, Li Yuan-zu.

President Chen Shui-bian
President Chen: Relations could be damaged
He was nominated by the Taiwanese government to represent the island at the leaders' meeting, but Beijing, which does not recognise Taiwan as a nation in its own right, appears to have seen him as too politically sensitive.

China made it clear that it believed Taiwan should follow the example of previous Apec meetings at which it has been represented by non-politicians or lower-level ministers in charge of economic affairs.

China is also thought to have been angered by the fact that Taiwan's President, Chen Shui-bian, originally suggested that he himself should attend the meeting. Beijing is deeply suspicious of Mr Chen, who it regards as a supporter of Taiwanese independence.

Taiwan reaction

The current row may reflect China's desire to teach him a lesson for breaching what it sees as Apec protocol.

Taiwan's economics minister has been present at an Apec ministers' meeting in Shanghai this week, but he was very publicly over-ruled by China's foreign minister, Tang Jiaxuan, at a news conference on Thursday.

When the Taiwanese official tried to express his opinions on who should represent the island, Mr Tang abruptly cut him off, saying he did not want to waste time talking about the issue.

President Chen, speaking in Taipei, made it clear that he believed the unprecedented row could damage cross-Straits relations. He said China's behaviour had hurt the feelings of the island's people and Taiwan could not allow its dignity to be trampled on.

See also:

26 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan to review China ban
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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