TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Although the Tsai administration has yet to officially announce the country’s envoy for the 2018 APEC Leaders’ Summit in Papa New Guinea scheduled in mid November, former Premier Lin Chuan (林全) is reported as a likely candidate.
After chairman of the People First Party, James Soong (宋楚瑜) was removed from consideration for the position he has served in years past, there has been speculation on who the Tsai administration might tap to replace him.
The decision of who to send is a tricky one for the government. The official must be palpable to the Chinese communist party, or Taiwan risks increased pressure on APEC from Beijing, which may seek to bar Taiwan’s attendance.
Lin Chuan was the Tsai administration’s first Premier from the 2016 inauguration to September 2017 when he was replaced by William Lai. Lin also served as a cabinet level minister under the Chen Shui-bian Presidency.
Should Lin be tapped to attend the APEC Summit, he would be the first DPP affiliated politician to attend since the Chen administration.
Liberty Times reports that Taiwan is technically bound by a memorandum of understanding as a requirement of its participation in the APEC organization. If the envoy is determined by Beijing not to recognize the historical fiction of the “1992 Consensus” they may ramp up pressure to suspend Taiwan’s participation.
In 2001, under the Chen Shui-bian administration, China hosted the APEC Leaders’ Summit in Shanghai. The Chen government selected Lee Yuan-tsu (李元簇), the former Vice-President under Lee Teng-hui’s administration.
China rejected the appointment of the envoy, and Taiwan was unable to attend the 2001 Summit. With a possible appointment of Lin Chuan, amid increasing cross-strait tensions, observers are concerned a similar situation may play out this year as well.
However, with the Summit in Papa New Guinea, China may not be able to entirely exclude the Taiwanese delegation as they were able to do when the meeting was held in Shanghai.
In the midst of the U.S.- China trade war, this year’s APEC Summit could prove to be a very significant gatherign of leaders. It will be the first of two meetings between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump which are both scheduled for November, preceding the G20 Summit Nov. 30-Dec. 1.
Former envoy James Soong with U.S. President Trump at the 2017 APEC Summit (CNA Image)