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DPP blasts government for routing AIIB letter through TAO

Taipei, April 1 (CNA) Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), on Wednesday criticized the government as "dwarfing the national status" by asking China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) to forward Taiwan's letter of intent to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The government sent its letter of intent to the TAO, which then forwarded it to the AIIB's provisional secretariat, while the Ministry of Finance sent a copy to the AIIB on Tuesday, the deadline for applications to join as a founding member, according to local media reports. Tsai said the Presidential Office took the lead in announcing that Taiwan's application would be passed on to the AIIB secretariat by the TAO. "This is a gross dwarfing of the national status," since the TAO, which is responsible for handling relations with Taiwan, is an office under China's State Council, Tsai said. "It also set a bad precedent," she said, adding that it is incredible that the Kuomintang (KMT) would have made such a grave mistake after seven years in power. Tsai said that joining an international organization like the AIIB is a major undertaking that must be professionally assessed and then endorsed by the public and the Legislature. Finance Minister Chang Sheng-ford said all the government did was ask Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council's (MAC) to contact its Chinese counterpart the TAO to obtain a fax number for the AIIB provisional secretariat. "It was the Ministry of Finance that faxed the letter of intent directly to the secretariat," Chang told netizens on an online program, who were questioning the wisdom of having the MAC play a seemingly important role in the process. The two sides of the Taiwan Strait have a "uniquely special" relationship in which the only official channel of communication is between the MAC and TAO, the minister said. Since the AIIB's preparatory office is located in Beijing, it was best that the MAC made contact to get the necessary information, he said. "If the secretariat were in New York or London, we would have asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to help," he said. He stressed that the MAC's role will gradually be minimized once the AIIB begins operation, "at which time MOFA will be called in to assist with any problems that may arise." Presidential Office spokesman Charles Chen said Taiwan's participation in the AIIB, if carried out in a dignified and equitable way, will bring great benefits to the country. Without directly responding to Tsai's criticism of the Presidential Office on the matter, Chen said that if Taiwan does not indicate its interest in joining the AIIB at this stage when it is being set up, "we might not have a chance to speak for ourselves in the future." "If we don't try to get in now to fight for our own rights -- which may prevent a lowering of our status in the future -- who would bother to fight for us?" Chen asked. (By Sophia Yeh, Kelven Huang, Wei Shu and S.C. Chang)

Updated : 2021-09-29 03:24 GMT+08:00