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WTO and Taiwan Dominate Meeting of Presidents

WTO Membership and Taiwan Dominate Meeting of Presidents

By Selwyn Manning

United States and China are moving closer to achieving an elusive trade deal and China's entry into the World Trade Organisation may be managed before the WTO talks scheduled for Seattle in November.

China is eager to join the WTO but first must reach market-opening accords with the United States, the European Union and other major trading partners.

Certainly President Clinton said he hopes that China grasps the incentive of WTO membership, a card which can be used to strengthen world stability.

China is certainly is proud of its recovery from the Asian Economic Crisis. It recorded a 7.6 percent GDP growth rate for the first half of 1999. China too plans to speed up infrastructural development, promote technical advancement and industrial upgrading in enterprise and agriculture.

And the APEC-speak was fine tuned. President Jiang Zemin said tonight: "We will as always firmly pursue the policy of reform and opening up."

That's the outcome of the summit meeting held today in Auckland at the APEC leader's meeting. But beyond trade, foreign policy, as opposed to China's internal policy, was what dominated the meeting of presidents.

Both China and the United States discussed the Chinese sore point of Taiwan. It became obvious yesterday that if the US/Sino relationship was to improve mutually progress, the United States would need to support China's "One Nation" policy.

Taiwan is seeking a two nations status in its attempt for complete autonomy away from China. Taiwan's president, Lee Teng-hui, asserted in July that China and Taiwan should have a "state-to-state" relationship. This was a clear statement of intent toward independence. China followed with threats to attack the island.

The United States has pressed for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. China said yesterday that Taiwan's Lee Teng-hui was threatening the stability of the Asia Pacific region by asserting independence.

Today, President Clinton agreed to and support China's One Nation policy, a stance which secretary of state Madeleine Albright set in stone yesterday by speaking on the US President's behalf. But that support comes with a peaceful-diplomatic-resolution tag attached. President Clinton favours a "cross strait dialogue".

One Nation simply does not recognise Taiwan as an independent nation.

China's President Jiang Zemin responded today by agreeing it would pursue a "peaceful" path toward resolving its word-war with Taiwan. However, President Zemin said tonight, China will not "renounce the use of force" to enforce Taiwan's attachment to the "motherland", should Taiwan move to further distance itself from mainland China.

President Zemin said: "Taiwan poses a very grave violation of China's sovereignty and of China's national interest." He said outside interference would only risk escalation in the conflict, as would an assertion by Taiwan for independence. If that happened China would not renounce using force.

The Taiwan issue was a litmus test for both superpowers. It was the eyeballing before a match type situation. China wanted currency from the USA and it got it in support for its sovereign stance of claim to Taiwan.

China is beaming after getting this assurance. China had earlier been outraged by US arms sales to Taiwan and US discussion of a possible anti-missile shield in East Asia. President Zemin is insisting that the USA cease all military supply to Taiwan.

President Zemin made it clear tonight that both the US and China wished to mend the rift caused by the bungled US bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. He said the bombing "caused serious damage to Sino/US talks" and was seen by China's 1.2 billion people as a "horrific act" against the People's Republic. It also caused "grave damage" to the momentum which the two nations had gathered in establishing close foreign relations. However, both China and the US have agreed to resume WTO negotiation and are taking a fast track approach to that end.

China refused to elaborate on whether a pact had been established between China and the United States over a unified role in bringing about peace and independence in East Timor.

APEC leaders are now expected to endorse the launching of new negotiations by the 134-nation World Trade Organisation to remove trade barriers in agriculture, industries and services such as banking and airlines. The WTO, which sets the rules for global trade, will hold a ministerial meeting beginning Nov. 30 in Seattle.

President Clinton will meet tomorrow with Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and South Korean President Kim Dae-jung. Items to be discussed include: North Korea's suspected preparations to test a new long-range ballistic missile.

President Clinton will also meet with Russia's new prime minister, Vladimir Putin. Allegations of corruption in the Kremlin and money laundering will provide sensitive topics of discussion.

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