Cablegate: Citing Desire for Fta with China, New Zealand
C O N F I D E N T I A L WELLINGTON 000747
STATE FOR EAP/ANP - TRAMSEY, EAP/CM AND EAP/RSP/TC
STATE PASS USTR - BWEISEL
COMMERCE FOR 4530/ITA/MAC/AP/OSAO/GPAINE
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/01/2014
TAGS: ETRD ECON PREL NZ
SUBJECT: CITING DESIRE FOR FTA WITH CHINA, NEW ZEALAND
WON'T ISSUE VISA TO TAIWANESE OFFICIAL
REF: A. WELLINGTON 322
B. WELLINGTON 217
C. WELLINGTON 173 (NOTAL)
D. 2003 WELLINGTON 1213
Classified by Acting DCM Timothy Zuniga-Brown. Reason: 1.5
(b) and (d).
1. (C) Summary: Taiwan's economic affairs minister withdrew
his application for a visa to attend a business conference in
Wellington after the New Zealand government made it clear
that it would not approve his visit. Although the minister,
Lin Yi-fu, had traveled to Wellington two years ago to attend
the conference, the New Zealand government said that
circumstances had changed and that it did not want to
antagonize the People's Republic of China nor jeopardize its
negotiations for a free-trade agreement with Beijing. In the
absence of a free-trade deal with the United States, New
Zealand is anxious to secure an agreement with China and is
aiming to start talks early next year. End summary.
2. (U) Minister Lin Yi-fu had expected to lead a Taiwanese
delegation to the 17th New Zealand-Taiwan Business Council
conference, scheduled to be held September 6-7 in Wellington.
The conference was canceled August 30 after an official from
the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT)
told the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Auckland that
a person of lower rank would more likely be issued a visa.
Lin then withdrew his visa request.
3. (U) Explaining the government's decision, MFAT Deputy
Secretary Michael Green told the Dominion Post: "Two years
ago, we didn't have the level of tension between the Chinese
and the Taiwanese that we've had for about the last year ...
and secondly, we didn't have a major government priority the
carrying forward of this trade negotiation with the Chinese."
On May 28, New Zealand and China signed a trade and economic
cooperation framework for a free-trade agreement (FTA).
Both governments are working on a joint study on the costs
and benefits of an agreement, which they expect to complete
before the APEC meeting in November in Santiago.
Negotiations then could begin in early 2005.
4. (U) Green pointed to China's displeasure over Singapore
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's visit to Taiwan as
suggesting the strain that a Lin visit would place on New
4. (U) A joint meeting of the Australian and Taiwanese
business councils also was canceled over the same issue.
5. (C/NO FORN) Several New Zealand officials have told the
Embassy that their government considers a deal with China as
a lever for securing an FTA with the United States (ref A and
C). New Zealand also sees itself as in a race with
Australia. An MFAT official said this week that the
government's major fear is that, after being left out of the
U.S.-Australia FTA, Australia -- but not New Zealand -- will
reach an agreement with China. He described the New Zealand
government's desire for a Chinese agreement as "obsessive."
6. (U) The business conference was canceled two days before a
conference in Auckland on doing business in China, sponsored
by the Auckland Chamber of Commerce and Asia 2000, a
nonprofit organization partly financed by the government.
China is New Zealand's fourth-largest trading partner and
Taiwan, its eighth.