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Last Updated: Monday, 19 November 2007, 17:27 GMT
Taiwan blocks Chinese WTO judge
WTO headquarters in Geneva
The WTO's Appellate Body tries to resolve billion-dollar trade disputes
The appointment of a Chinese judge to the highest court in the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been blocked by Taiwan in a surprise decision.

Taiwan lodged its objection citing fears of bias and the step forced a meeting on the matter to be adjourned.

China's Zhang Yuejiao was among four candidates nominated to the WTO's seven-member Appellate Body in June.

She would have been China's first judge on the body, which rules on trade disputes between WTO member states.

Beijing regards the island of Taiwan - which has been under self-rule since the end of the civil war in 1949 - as a renegade province which should eventually be reunified with China.

It consistently blocks Taiwanese attempts to join United Nations bodies, but has made an exception for economic organisations such as the WTO.

'Deep concerns'

The Dispute Settlement Body met on Monday in Geneva and one of the items on the agenda was the consideration of the nominations to the Appellate Body.

But then Taiwan asked for that particular item to be removed. Other member states present, including the US, Japan and the European Union, were reportedly taken aback.

With no way out of the impasse, the meeting's chairman was forced to adjourn the talks.

"We have deep concerns on the question of impartiality and qualification of one of the recommended candidates," the Taiwanese delegation said in a statement.

A selection committee had circulated the names of all four nominees to WTO members earlier in the month.

But Monday saw "the first formal opportunity for them to object", an official told Reuters news agency.

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