Taiwan VP’s visit is unofficial’

JAKARTA IN A FLAP

Indonesia yesterday braced itself for a possible backlash from China following reports that two government ministers had held talks with Taiwan’s Vice-President Annette Lu in Bali.

Jakarta, repeating its adherence to a ‘One China Policy’ that recognised Taiwan as an integral part of China, denied yesterday that Ms Lu had met Labour Minister Jacob Nua Wea and Environment Minister Nabiel Makarim on the resort island on Thursday.

Indonesian officials who spoke to The Straits Times were adamant that no meetings with ministers had been arranged given that the visit was unofficial. She had been allowed entry only for transit purposes.

A Foreign Ministry source said: ‘She has every right to be a tourist in Indonesia. We cannot deny her that right. But we will not grant her an audience with any government official.

‘She tried to meet the Governor of Bali but failed. Why then would she be given access to Cabinet ministers?’

But his comments fly in the face of reports quoting other officials here that Mr Nua Wea met Ms Lu on Thursday evening to discuss the status of about 97,000 Indonesian workers in Taiwan.

Mr Nabiel, a personal friend, was said to have held separate talks with her later.

The latest twist in the saga follow Beijing’s intervention on Wednesday to block her from visiting Jakarta, where she was supposed to have stayed two days for ministerial discussions on economic cooperation and environmental issues. As a result, she was forced to cool her heels in Bali.

She left Bali yesterday for Jakarta where she met senior Golkar party officials, Agung Laksono and Marzuki Darusman.

Her brief visit here has generated confusion over just what it was supposed to accomplish.

More significantly, it has angered China, in particular over the reported talks with Indonesian ministers.

China’s Foreign Ministry said yesterday that Ms Lu’s visit to Indonesia would ‘increase tensions across the Taiwan Straits’.

‘It’s apparent that she wants to split China by carrying out Taiwanese independence activities and wants to damage relations between China and other countries with which China has diplomatic relations,’ it said.

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