Really Going WTO?  (c) Simon Xi Zhang, 2002

IV.  Contemplation on Possibility of WTO Settlement between Taiwan and China




Taiwan is zealous in joining WTO because WTO will be the first major international organization of which Taiwan can become a member. Coequal membership with Mainland China has special symbolic meaning to Taiwan – a renegade province considered by China.

WTO is actually a non-political international organization. Taiwan joins WTO as a "separate customs territory"” under Article XXXIII of GATT 1947[92]. Nevertheless, Taiwanese Government and officials would like to use WTO membership promoting the idea that Taiwan is an independent Sovereignty. Taiwan's ultimate goal is to become a state called "Republic of Taiwan"[93]. This seems to be unacceptable to China, which seeks ultimate "reunification of the motherland"[94]. China has always tried hard to block or offset any effort taken by Taiwan in publicizing the latter's international image. Now that both sides are members of WTO, handling trade relations with Taiwan while striking a balance between economic interest and political standpoint has become a delicate issue for China.

Right after Doha Ministerial Conference adopted Taiwan's Protocol of Accession, Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian delivered a speech to his "fellow countrymen"[95] and stated that Taiwan will actively participate in all WTO activities "under the principle of equal participation", impliedly referring to Taiwan's equal status vis-à-vis China as a political entity. President Chen also appealed both sides to "uphold the spirit of 'goodwill reconciliation, active cooperation, and lasting peace'", as if he was talking about a special trade -- trade in political ideologies. Finally, President Chen suggested the two sides should normalize their relations and promote cooperation "within the WTO's multilateral trading system", revealing Taiwan's eagerness to use WTO bringing cross-strait negotiation onto international stage.

[92] GATT C/M/259.4. Also, WT/ACC/TPKM/1 (December 7, 1995)

[93] The new Taiwanese passport from 2002 bears its official name "Republic of China", but with annotation "Issued in Taiwan" in the bottom of its cover. Press Release, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (January 13, 2002). Adopted by 2769th Meeting of Executive Yuan (January 16, 2002). Chinese government was greatly enraged and soon published strong rebuke.

[94] Paragraph 9, Preamble to the Constitution of the People's Republic of China (December 4, 1982), and Article 52 of the Constitution.

[95] Government Information Office, President Chen's Statement on Taiwan Joining the WTO (November 12, 2001).