16, 2000, Saturday London Edition 1
to bar stopover by Taiwan vice-president
MURE DICKIE, TAIPEI
US is set to refuse a request from Taipei to allow Annette
Lu, Taiwan's vice-president, to make a transit stop in New
York as part of an international tour later this month.
decision underlines the limits of a recent warming in unofficial
ties between Taipei and Washington - as well as a US desire
to avoid offending mainland China, which claims sovereignty
over Taiwan and fiercely objects to any international trips
by the island's leaders.
last month strongly protested against a transit stop to
Los Angeles by Chen Shui-bian, Taiwan's president, but Ms
Lu's visit is even more sensitive. The vice president has
long been a vocal defender of Taiwan's claim to a separate
identity, an approach that has prompted Chinese state media
to label her "scum", "traitor" and "lunatic".
had called on the US to grant Ms Lu treatment similar to
that accorded former Vice-President Lien Chan, who made
a one-night stopover in New York in 1998. However, a senior
official at the presidential office said yesterday Washington
had made clear it was not ready to allow Ms Lu, who begins
a week-long visit to Central America on September 24, to
pass through New York.
are still discussing the issue. .. but the best scenario
now is that the vice-president will be able to make a transit
stop in Los Angeles," the official said.
the strange world of diplomatically isolated Taiwan's unofficial
relations with the US, even the choice of city through which
a top leader is allowed to pass is loaded with political
bars all official contacts with senior Taipei leaders.
the US, Ms Lu's choice of New York as a transit point was
particularly sensitive, given her passionate desire for
Taiwan to win entry to the United Nations and her reputation
for having little time for diplomatic niceties.
the decision to deny Taipei's request is likely to anger
members of the US Congress, some of whom have already been
campaigning for Taiwanese leaders to be given greater freedom
to visit the US.