Taiwan V-P’s trip to Indonesia – what really happened?
Did Taiwanese Vice-President Annette Lu meet Indonesia’s top leadership or not?
Ms Lu was coy on this in her short statement to the press last night, on her return after four days in Indonesia.
‘I met many very meaningful people,’ she said, without elaborating.
According to the Taiwanese media, she had met President Megawati Sukarnoputri as well as the labour and environment ministers, but Indonesian officials denied the meetings took place and insisted she was there strictly as a tourist.Nonetheless, Ms Lu last night declared her trip a success.
‘I feel very honoured to have completed my mission to represent the 2.3 million Taiwanese successfully, and to have visited Indonesia in a dignified manner,’ she said.
She described the visit as a ‘diplomatic campaign that was highly difficult, highly secretive,’ and thanked the Indonesians for their brave embrace of Taiwan’s friendship in the face of ‘tyrannical might’.
On the day of her arrival last week, she was denied entry into Jakarta and diverted to Bali, because of pressure from China, which regards Taiwan as a rogue province.
Insisting that her trip was not a holiday, Ms Lu said yesterday that it fulfilled President Chen Shui-bian’s new ‘Go South’ policy of reaching out to the region, as a counter to moves by Beijing to isolate Taipei internationally.
Observers have described Ms Lu’s Indonesia trip as part of a new diplomatic offensive.
The apparent aim of Taiwan’s new ‘guerilla warfare’ diplomacy is to raise its international visibility, but critics have charged that the true intent is to provoke a hostile reaction from China and build up an image of a victimised Taiwan.
This in turn is aimed at driving the Taiwanese to back Mr Chen come election time in 2004.
In Jakarta, Indonesian officials yesterday charged that Taipei was ‘playing a game’ to irritate Beijing, even as they scrambled to deny that Ms Megawati met Ms Lu on Friday night to discuss investment and labour issues.
Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayudah repeated Jakarta’s adherence to a One China policy that recognised Beijing as the sole legal Chinese government.
‘I will say with absolute certainty that there was no meeting between our President and Ms Lu,’ he said. ‘There was no private meeting nor official contact.’
A senior Indonesian diplomat suggested that ‘inaccurate information’ was being leaked to the media as part of Taipei’s plot to needle China.
‘The Taiwanese are playing a game to signal to Beijing that they are independent and can do whatever they want, despite Chinese pressure on them to back off. Telling the world that Ms Lu met the Indonesian President is a great public relations victory.’
A Sunday Times check with the presidential palace suggested Ms Megawati could not have met Ms Lu on Friday night as her itinerary listed only Indonesian guests.
Former Attorney-General Marzuki Darusman said that several members of his Golkar party did meet Ms Lu and 15 members of her delegation for dinner until after 11 pm.
But observers speculated that she could have met Ms Megawati earlier, possibly immediately after arriving in Jakarta on Friday afternoon.
Mission a success
I met many very meaningful people. I feel very honoured to have completed my mission to represent the Taiwanese and to have visited Indonesia in a dignified manner.’
– Taiwan’s No. 2 Annette Lu
No contact at all
I will say with absolute certainty that there was no meeting between our President and Ms Lu. There was no private meeting nor official contact.’
– Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayudah.