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Thailand Postpones Labor Deal with Taiwan - 2002-08-27

The government of Thailand postponed signing a labor agreement with Taiwan after a Taiwanese cabinet-level minister asked to attend the ceremony. The agreement aims to make it easier for Thai citizens to work in Taiwan.

Senior Thai officials Tuesday played down news that the Foreign Ministry refused to give a visa to the chairwoman of Taiwan's Council of Labor Affairs, Chen Chu.

Foreign ministry spokesman Isorn Pocmontri says the agreement was to be signed at what he called the official level, between the directors of Thailand's trade office and Taiwan's trade mission in Bangkok.

He says Ms Chen, however, holds the rank of cabinet minister.


In accordance with our obligation with the People's Republic of China that we recognize only one China, it's not possible for us to issue visas to members of the government of Taipei.

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The agreement aims to help Thai workers in Taiwan by reducing recruiting fees and by allowing employers to hire workers directly, instead of using costly middlemen. Some 140-thousand Thai nationals work in Taiwan and reportedly earn more than 800 million dollars a year.

An official at the Thai Labor Ministry says there are no disagreements over the accord and it is ready for signing.

The delay follows a visit last week by Taiwanese Vice President Annette Lu to Indonesia and a speech by Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian mentioning a possible referendum on Taiwanese independence. Both raised hackles on the Chinese mainland.

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We have taken note of the incident (visit), plus the speech that the president of Taiwan made on August 3rd, which led to the strain between Taiwan and the People's Republic of China.

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The Thai spokesman said that although Thailand and Taiwan have strong trade ties, they do not have diplomatic relations.

The Chinese government views Taiwan as its territory, and opposes any official overseas contacts by Taipei officials.