On Monday, Taiwan was rejected entry to a high-level meeting concerning steel production at a forum held by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Belgium.

The Taiwanese delegation was halted by two officials from the Belgian Ministry of Economic Affairs, who said they were under great pressure from China to stop them from entering.

Director-General of the Department of International Organizations Michael Hsu explains, “The symposium had two parts: a morning meeting open to industrial representatives and an afternoon conference only for government officials. Our delegation had no problem attending the morning meeting, but was asked not to join the afternoon session because of China’s objection.”

The Ministry of Economic Affairs said China’s reasoning behind the rejection was due to the ranking of the Taiwan delegation’s leader not being high enough. The Ministry claimed the delegation “protested on the spot, and pointed out that nearly half of the heads of delegations held similar ranks as us. That is an unreasonable and discriminatory act."

The delegation lodged protests with the OECD head office in Paris, Belgium through Taiwan’s representative to the EU, and China through the Mainland Affairs Council.

The next day, the Taiwanese delegation was allowed to attend the meeting without any problems.

Taiwan is not an OECD member, but has been attending the organization’s meetings on steel production since 2002. It gained observer status in 2005.

Furor at the Legislative Yuan

Several members of the Legislative Yuan expressed their frustration upon hearing the news.

KMT’s Lin Te-fu criticized the DPP and NPP majority of the representative body, stating that while China had good relations with Taiwan under the KMT, “there would be problems” and “cross-strait ties could be heading towards a stalemate” if the DPP and NPP do not become cooperative.

DPP’s Chen Ting-fei pointed out such incidents are common since China seeks to restrict Taiwan’s participation and calls President Ma’s “Golden Age of Cross-Strait Relations” to be “non-existent."

Edited by Edward White

Taipei Times
Seattle Times
France 24
Straits Times
China Post
Ministry of Economic Affairs