Taiwan protests ejection from OECD steel talks, blames China

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

BEIJING (AP) — Taiwan says its delegation was ejected from a meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's steel committee after China complained, part of an apparent hardening of Beijing's attitude toward the island it claims as its own territory.

Taiwan is only an observer rather than a member of the OECD due to China's campaign to isolate it diplomatically. It was participating as a dialogue partner in the meeting held Monday in Belgium to discuss excess steel capacity.

However, the Chinese delegation demanded the Taiwanese leave because the delegates' ranks were not senior enough, Taiwan's official Central News Agency said Tuesday.

CNA cited Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Eleanor Wang as saying that claim wasn't valid because Taiwan had participated in previous meetings at the same level and in the same capacity.

"Strong protests" had been lodged against China, Belgium and the OECD over the ejection, CNA said without giving details.

Taiwan and China recently disagreed over Kenya's deportation of 45 Taiwanese wire fraud suspects to China, with Taiwan saying Beijing had violated a tacit understanding under which both sides agreed not to interfere in the legal affairs of their citizens abroad.

China said it had jurisdiction because the victims of the scammers were residents of mainland China. Officials claimed also that Taiwan hadn't sufficiently punished the perpetrators of previous such scams.

Facing intense public pressure, Taiwanese officials managed subsequently to convince Malaysia to deport a separate group of Taiwanese criminal suspects to Taiwan despite Beijing's request that they be sent to China. With no arrest warrants issued against them, Taiwanese police had no choice but to release the group after their arrival, prompting outrage in China's state media.

Taiwan's Justice Ministry said 10 officials from the police and agencies responsible for contacts with China would travel to Beijing on Wednesday to negotiate over the fate of the 45 and seek ways to boost cooperation in fighting cross-border crime.

China's moves are widely seen an attempt to assert its claims to sovereignty over the island and legal authority over its residents. The sides split amid civil war in 1949 and China has long sought to isolate Taiwan diplomatically by preventing it from maintaining formal ties with most countries, including Malaysia and Kenya. China's economic clout lends it diplomatic influence.