Fri, 19 Aug 1994

Alatas denies inviting Taiwan's president to APEC

JAKARTA (JP): Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Alatas yesterday denied reports that Indonesia has invited Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting scheduled for November.

"(The reports) are not at all based on facts," Alatas said in a statement here yesterday.

He further added that Indonesia has not yet delivered any invitations to the meeting due to be held on Nov. 15 in Bogor, West Java.

"In reality the formal invitation has yet to be extended by our side to Taiwan," Alatas said.

The foreign minister's remark came in response to a statement reportedly made by Taiwan's presidential spokesperson, Raymond Tai, that the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce office in Taipei had recently extended an invitation to President Lee.

Indonesia currently presides over the 17-nation forum which groups -- the United States, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, Canada, Australia and New Zealand -- along with the six members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations -- Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Brunei.

China yesterday reacted strongly to Lee's probable inclusion in the Bogor meeting as reported by AFP from Tokyo. The reports also quoted Chinese President Jiang Zemin as threatening to boycott the November summit if Lee attends.

There is no reason for the president of the People's Republic of China, Jiang Zemin, to make such a statement, Alatas said.

He added that the APEC leaders' meeting in Bogor would emulate last year's inaugural meeting on Blake Island, Seattle.

A no-show due to Chinese pressure, Lee was conspicuous by his absence during the Blake island meeting and was only represented by a lower ranking official.


The foreign ministry's director of information Irawan Abidin said that although Jakarta has not yet extended an invitation to Taipei, the government would nevertheless invite Taiwan to the meeting.

"Not only to the leaders' meeting but also the ministerial summit before that," he told The Jakarta Post.

When queried further on when the invitation would be handed to Taipei, Irawan replied, "in the very near future."

Indonesia and Taiwan maintain no diplomatic relations, as Jakarta adopts a one China policy, acknowledging the Beijing government as the sole representative of the Chinese people.

Despite the absence of diplomatic ties, Taiwan is Indonesia's third largest foreign investor with over US$8.5 billion invested here over the past 25 years.

Ties blossomed even further earlier this year with Lee's 'holiday' in Bali where he 'accidentally' met with President Soeharto.

In the past month alone two separate Indonesian delegations, one led by Minister of Investment/Chairman of the Investment Planning Board Sanyoto Sastrowardoyo and the other by Aburizal Bakrie, chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, have visited Taipei and met with both President Lee and Prime Minister Lien Chan. (mds)