Taiwan to join AIIB only if treated equally: Premier Mao

TAIPEI - Premier Mao Chi-kuo said yesterday that should Taiwan apply to join the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in the future, it should be striving to receive equal treatment and to be respected as a country.

Mao made the remarks during an interpellation session at the Legislative Yuan yesterday, when he answered an opposition lawmaker's question on the issue of Taiwan's prospective joining.

"If we are not treated respectfully, receive treatment equal to other members, then we may as well not join. There is a bottom line on the name Taiwan is registered under when we do join, and this will be subjected to scrutiny by the people of Taiwan," said Mao.

Kuomintang Legislator Lin Te-fu proceeded to ask whether the United States and Japan's joining of the AIIB would affect Taiwan's hopes to join, to which Mao answered that the US was seen to be positive about the outcome.

"So I don't think this will become a challenge," said Mao.

"Joining the AIIB will be an important step for Taiwan as it is merging into the trend that is global economic integration; this would bring business opportunities and prevent Taiwan from being isolated," said Mao.

Hopefully Joining as ROC

The timing for which Taiwan may join the AIIB would be critical as well, the premier said. "If we become one of the original members, then the need to obtain our rights is necessary and helpful.

"Only original members may discuss the ground rules, ground rules that will affect members' rights, obligations and their qualifications ... if Taiwan is not included in these discussions, then there probably won't be a chance to talk about all these," said Mao.

Lin brought up the possibility that China may insist for Taiwan to join under the name "China Taipei," to which Mao said was "unacceptable."

Should the name be changed to "Chinese Taipei?" Lin asked. "This is the international practice so far, but we will see if there are better chances," said Mao. "The best possible solution would be for Taiwan to join as the Republic of China."

Investing US$200 Million in AIIB: Mao

The application to join AIIB has been sent out yesterday, but not to the Taiwan Affairs Office, said Mao, who also announced that the government will be investing US$200 million (S$274 million) in the AIIB project should the nation successfully snag a position in the organisation.

In joining the AIIB, Taiwan's benefits as a country will not be neglected, said Mao.

The AIIB, formally launched by Xi in 2014, is part of China's efforts to create new financial and economic institutions to boost its international influence. The bank was initially capitalised at US$50 billion, with 50 per cent coming from China.

So far, more than 30 countries have applied to join the AIIB.

China confirmed this week that Britain and Switzerland have been formally accepted as founding members of AIIB, following the acceptance of Brazil the previous day.