BEIJING, TAIPEI – Taiwan is not able to become a founding member of the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank but is still welcome to become an ordinary member in the future, the Chinese government said on Monday.
In a statement carried by the official Xinhua news agency, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said it confirmed what it said was a Hong Kong media report about the rejection of Taiwan. The report also said Taiwan could join further down the line, the Taiwan Affairs Office added.
While the Taiwan Affairs Office provided no explanation, it repeated that Taiwan would be welcome to join if it used an appropriate name.
“The mainland will consider opinions from all sides to properly address the issue of Taiwan’s membership,” the statement said. “The related departments will consider Taiwan’s membership when making the constitution for the AIIB.”
China views Taiwan as a renegade province. Most countries, including the United States, do not recognise Taiwan due to pressure from China.
Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations, the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund. It is though a member of the Asian Development Bank under the name of Taipei, China.
Taiwan played down the rejection, reiterating its interest to become an AIIB member if it receives equal treatment as other members.
Joining the AIIB would be positive for Taiwan, said Charles Chen, spokesman for Taiwan’s Presidential Office.
“But if the future of Taiwan’s accession fails to meet the precondition of ‘dignity and equality’, then Taiwan would prefer not to participate,” Chen said.
China has not ruled out the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control. But since Taiwan’s current president Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008, enmity has declined considerably and the two sides have signed a number of trade and investment deals.
Taiwan’s decision to apply to join the AIIB has sparked a heated debate in democratic Taiwan, where deepening relations with autocratic China have caused growing unease.
The rejection comes as Taiwan’s ruling party, which had championed the AIIB application, said its chairman Eric Chu will visit China in May to attend a cross-straits forum. The visit has drawn criticism from Taiwan’s pro-independence opposition party.
“Taiwan is a nation. Our negotiations with China should be government-to-government, not party-to-party negotiations conducted in secret,” Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen said in response to Chu’s visit.
Tsai is widely expected to be a candidate in next year’s presidential elections.
The United States has urged countries to think twice about joining the AIIB until it could show sufficient standards of governance and environmental and social safeguards.