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Taiwan's bid to join AIIB a non-starter: finance minister

2016/04/12 13:09:07

(File photo courtesy of Kyodo News)

Taipei, April 12 (CNA) Finance Minister Chang Sheng-ford (張盛和) said Tuesday that Taiwan will no longer apply to participate in the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) because it is not being treated with dignity and equality.

"The matter will be left for the new administration to decide," Chang said in a telephone interview with CNA, referring to the administration of President-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), which takes office on May 20.

Chang said the ministry sent a letter to the Interim Secretariat for Establishing the AIIB in March 2015 expressing Taiwan's hope to become a founding member of the AIIB, but the bid was rejected.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) later said several times that China welcomed Taiwan's participation in the AIIB under an appropriate name, but he never specified what Beijing considered "appropriate."

After the AIIB was formally inaugurated in January, Chang sent a congratulatory message to its chief Jin Liqun (金立群) and inquired if Taiwan needed to apply again, but he received no response.

Jin has repeatedly described Taiwan's AIIB bid as a "family matter" between the two sides since Jan. 16, when Tsai was elected president, and has insisted that Taiwan is not a sovereign state and should follow the Hong Kong model in having China's Ministry of Finance apply for membership on its behalf in accordance with the AIIB charter.

"We cannot accept such a model," Chang said categorically, adding that the ministry will no longer apply for membership because Taiwan cannot join the AIIB under the preconditions of dignity and equality.

He noted, however, that this does not mean the "end of the AIIB bid," saying that it will hinge on the attitude of mainland China in the future.

Asked if Jin's hard-line attitude was related to the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party taking power in Taiwan, Chang was not willing to comment, but he stressed that Taiwan would not accept AIIB participation based on the Hong Kong model.

A Finance Ministry official said Tuesday that Taiwan's bottom line is to join the AIIB under the name of "Chinese Taipei" according to a bipartisan agreement reached last year, and said Jin's demand has hurt Taiwan's dignity.

But the official also said that if China were willing to let Taiwan apply to join in its capacity as an Asian Development Bank member, then it would be able to discuss the possibility of joining the bank.

"The designation is important. We cannot be denigrated," the official said.

(By Bernie Chiu and Lilian Wu)