By Christopher Bodeen
BEIJING (AP) — Cross-strait frictions remerged Monday as China said Taiwan won’t be among the charter members of the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, apparently because of a dispute over what name the island should use in the institution.
Taiwan is among more than 40 countries applying for membership in the new bank, which Washington opposes as unnecessary and potentially harmful.
However, the Chinese Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office said in a statement that Taiwan would be welcome to participate “under the appropriate name.” That reflects China’s view that the self-governing island republic’s name should not suggest that it is a country, because Beijing considers it part of China’s territory.
Spokesman Ma Xiaoguang also confirmed a Hong Kong media report that quoted a bank official as saying Taiwan would not be among the bank’s charter members, which are to be announced Wednesday.
Taiwan and China have long clashed over the island’s international status, with Beijing insisting that the U.S., Japan and most other countries only have unofficial relations with it. The sides were divided by a civil war in 1949 and China continues to insist on eventual unification, by force if necessary.
Chinese pressure forces Taiwan to participate in international sporting competitions and other events as “Chinese Taipei,” the name suggested by Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou when he proposed the island’s membership in the bank.
Beijing now appears to have rejected that suggestion. Although it has not offered an alternative, China succeeded in 1986 in having Taiwan’s name at the Asian Development Bank changed from “Chinese Taipei,” to “Taipei, China.”
Being a charter member of the bank would have given Taiwan greater say in its rules for governance and admission of future members.
In Taipei, legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng of the ruling Nationalist Party said Taiwan will seek to join the bank as an ordinary member, but would continue to insist on the name “Chinese Taipei.” (end)