Taiwan decision at WTO seen aimed at protecting its rights

Taiwan has blocked the appointment of a Chinese lawyer to serve as a judge on the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization in an effort to protect its rights and interests, Vice Economic Affairs Minister Hsieh Fadah said yesterday.
According to Hsieh, the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body was originally scheduled to approve Monday the nomination of Zhang Yuejiao as a judge on the Appellate Body, which has a final say in the WTO's dispute settlement system.
However, due to Taiwan's opposition, the DSB had to adjourn the meeting, marking the first time that the appointment of a judge to the Appellate Body has been blocked in this manner, Hsieh said. Noting that the Appellate Body is a very important organ in resolving trade disputes among WTO member states, Hsieh said Taiwan cannot remain silent and inactive in the process of selecting judges to serve on it.
"Every WTO member is entitled to voice their concerns or opposition in the Appellate Body judge nomination process," Hsieh said, adding that Taiwan needs to make sure that its rights will not be compromised.
In the initial stage of the candidate recommendation process, Hsieh said, Taiwan had already questioned the propriety of China's intention to have Zhang join the Appellate Body roster. Candidates for the post must be individuals with recognized standing in the field of law and international trade and no affiliation with any governments, according to WTO regulations.
"We must be assured of the impartiality of any candidate recommended for an Appellate Body post, " Hsieh said, adding that Taiwan needs to exercise extreme prudence toward candidates recommended by China.
While all WTO members can recommend candidates for Appellate Body posts, Hsieh said, the appointment of their candidates requires the consent of every WTO member. The DSB is not expected to meet on the Appellate Body appointment issue until after all the concerns expressed by member states are clarified or addressed, Hsieh added.
A Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said yesterday that Taiwan's opposition to the appointment of a Chinese lawyer is aimed at preventing any possible damage to the country's rights and interests.
MOFA deputy spokeswoman Yeh Fei-pi explained that Taiwan wants to make sure that the body maintains its impartiality in dealing with cases related to Taiwan in the future. Yeh said Taiwan's concerns are justified in light of China's continued discrimination against and suppression of Taiwan in the international community.