China may have pressured delegations

By Joseph Yeh ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Pressure from China could be the main reason that two delegations visiting Taiwan to participate an annual meeting of the Asian Pacific Parliamentarians’ Union (APPU) refused to sign a joint communique, sources said yesterday. The 44th General Assembly and the 78th Council meeting of the APPU was held in Taipei from Aug. 4 to 6, during which 12 national groups and two observers were invited to attend, according to the event organizers. The 12 delegations were Japan, the Republic of Kiribati, Malaysia, the Republic of Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Mongolia, the Republic Nauru, the Republic of Palau, the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, and the R.O.C. The two observers were from the Republic of Fiji and Vietnam. A joint communique was signed yesterday at the conclusion of the meeting.

However, only 10 delegations signed the document. Delegations from Mongolia and Malaysia did not do so, organizers said. Sources close to the matter told local media yesterday that the Malaysian delegation said it had received instructions from its foreign ministry not to sign the statement a week ago. The Mongolian delegation also did not sign the communique, for reasons as yet unknown.

Pressure from China could be a likely reason for them to do so, sources said.

Asked to comment on the incident, ruling Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Lin Yu-fang (林郁方), a member of the R.O.C. delegation and chairman for the APPU’s 78th Council meeting, said yesterday that he was not aware that the two delegations did not participate in the singing of the communique. Asked if Chinese pressure could be the reason behind the incident, Lin said he would not rule out the possibility that Beijing could be the reason that the two delegations ultimately decided not to sign the communique.

APPU Important Regional Platform Lin stressed that the APPU is an important platform for Taiwan to engage in exchanges with lawmakers in the Asia-Pacific region and its importance will not diminish despite the fact that some delegations did not sign the communique. Taiwan and Japan have been playing leading roles in the APPU for years and the meeting is a perfect channel for bilateral exchanges, the lawmaker said.

This year, 17 Japanese lawmakers including an incumbent cabinet member participated the annual meeting in Taipei, according to Lin. The APPU was founded in 1965 as the Asian Parliamentarians’ Union (APU) with the aim of achieving and preserving freedom and democracy, thereby securing peace and prosperity in Asia, according to the APPU website. The organization now has 21 members. The organization’s name was changed to the APPU in 1980 in order to widen its scope and to strengthen solidarity and the force of freedom in the Asia-Pacific region. This year’s meeting discussed the topic of increasing regional cooperation and how to minimize natural disasters.