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Taiwanese President Making Controversial Visit to Indonesia - 2002-08-17

Taiwan's Vice-President, Annette Lu, is making a controversial visit this week to Indonesia. The Indonesian government insists her trip is unofficial and reaffirms its commitment to Beijing's "one China" policy that considers Taiwan to be part of China. Taiwanese Vice-President Annette Lu arrived in Jakarta late Friday, from Indonesia's resort island of Bali. Ms. Lu said she was visiting Bali on a fact-finding mission about ways to promote tourism. But the visit caught the attention of officials in China's capital, Beijing. China maintains that Taiwan is not entitled to diplomatic relations with Indonesia or any other nation, because it is part of China.

In a statement released by Indonesia's Foreign Ministry, Jakarta this week said it has not arranged any aspects of Ms. Lu's visit. It also said Indonesia remains committed to the "one China" policy that recognizes China's sovereignty over Taiwan. The statement also said that as a Taiwanese national, Ms. Lu is entitled to a short-term visa to visit Indonesia.

Some media reports have said that Ms. Lu met with some government officials during her visit. But the Jakarta government has not confirmed any meetings.

There are also conflicting reports about Ms. Lu's arrival in Indonesia early this week. Some reports say she only went to Bali after authorities denied her entry to Jakarta. Others report that Ms. Lu only intended to transit at the airport in Jakarta before flying on to Bali. Ms. Lu is expected to spend two days in Jakarta.

Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian angered Beijing earlier this month by endorsing the idea of a referendum to determine the island's political future. Earlier this month, Indonesia lost out on a bid to supply China's southern province of Guangdong with liquid natural gas for the next 25 years. The contract, worth $13 billion, went to Australia instead.

But analysts say Indonesia is likely to win a contract to supply China's Fujian province with gas. The terms and value of that deal have not yet been released. But officials have said they consider it a "consolation prize" compared with the Guangdong contract.