BEIJING: Taiwan’s bid to become a founding member of China’s new regional development bank has been rejected, Beijing said Monday, dashing the island’s hopes of having a platform in the institution from the start.
Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the Beijing-based State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said in a statement that a Hong Kong report the island had failed to become a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) was correct.
But he held out the possibility of Taiwan joining later if it meets a key naming condition.
Beijing regards Taiwan as part of its territory and opposes international recognition for it, often curtailing its involvement in global agreements. The two split in 1949 at the end of the Chinese civil war.
“We are willing to continue to listen to the opinions of various parties to appropriately handle the issue of Taiwan’s participation in the AIIB,” Ma said in the statement.
“The AIIB… is open and inclusive and welcomes the Taiwan side to join under an appropriate name,” he added.
Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations, World Bank or International Monetary Fund but it has joined some international organizations under different names.
Reaction in Taiwan was characterized by a mix of disappointment, resignation and tenacity.
Charles Chen, spokesman for President Ma Ying-jeou, issued a brief written statement saying: “Joining AIIB would be good for Taiwan, but Taiwan would rather not attend if we are not treated under the principle of ‘dignity and equality’.”.
But the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was harshly critical.
Spokesman Cheng Yun-peng in a statement accused the government in Taipei of having been in too big a rush to seek membership.
“There was a lack of professional evaluation and sufficient communication with the people in advance,” Cheng said.
“The hasty and wishful decision was rewarded with disappointment and harm to the country’s reputation.”
Parliamentary speaker Wang Jin-pyng, a member of the ruling Kuomintang party, said Taiwan would not give up, but stressed there were limits to how far it would go.
“We still hope we could join as a member in the future and will keep striving for this.”
“But then again, in what name we would join is important,” he added, describing “Chinese Taipei” — the name under which Taiwan is referred to by the International Olympic Committee — as “the bottom line”.
Taiwan is known as the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu at the World Trade Organization.
It is a member of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) under the name “Taipei, China”, while officially the government refers to itself as the Republic of China.
More than 50 countries have applied to join the AIIB, a success for Beijing’s diplomacy after close US allies decided to participate even after Washington initially opposed them signing up.
The United States, which leads the World Bank, and its Asian ally Japan, which heads up the ADB, have not sought to participate.
Taiwan’s bid to join the AIIB and controversial new Chinese flight routes over the Taiwan Strait have sparked a string of protests on the island.