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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

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Alejandro Reyes APEC '99: Day Four
Even before he arrives, Bill Clinton makes his presence felt
By ALEJANDRO REYES Auckland


also:
VIPs Roll in as the Timor Drama Continues
A Communiqué Compromise
A Commandeered Press Conference

September 14, 1999
Web posted at 7:30 p.m. Hong Kong time, 7:30 a.m. EDT


    THE APEC SUMMIT
APEC '99 by the Numbers

Day Seven
Men - and One Woman - in Black
- Monday, Sept. 13, 1999

Day Six
On the Diplomatic Trail With Thailand's Chuan Leekpai
- Sunday, Sept. 12, 1999

Day Five
Days of Diplomacy
- Saturday, Sept. 11, 1999

Day Four
Even before he arrives, Bill Clinton makes his presence felt
- Friday, Sept. 10, 1999

Day Three
East Timor, Trade Talks, Clinton - and What The Leaders Will Wear
- Thursday, Sept. 9, 1999

Day Two: The Missing Agenda
Between East Timor and impending Sino-U.S. talks, the real business of APEC is being pushed aside
- Wednesday, Sept. 8, 1999

Day One
The hosts spend big to put their best foot forward. But will the Timor situation rain on Auckland's parade?
- Tuesday, Sept. 7, 1999

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Such is the power of the U.S. president that even before Bill Clinton had left Washington, he and his opinions were having a profound influence on the other side of the globe. "I am so deeply concerned by the failure of [Indonesia's] military to bring a stop to gross abuses now going on in East Timor," he said before departing for Auckland. "If Indonesia does not end the violence, it must invite - it must invite - the international community to assist in restoring security." The president declared that the U.S. was prepared to provide support for an Australia-led multinational peacekeeping force.

Clinton's remarks boosted efforts by Australia and Canada to bring about U.N. intervention in East Timor. While the special ministerial meeting on the APEC sidelines Sept. 9 had done little more than reiterate good intentions, the main obstacle had remained: Jakarta refused to accept a U.N. force. That made what Clinton said all the more significant -- if the U.S. president was hot on the issue, something was bound to happen. The International Monetary Fund, which has provided billions in emergency financial assistance to Jakarta, also weighed in, with both Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fischer and Asia-Pacific Department chief Hubert Neiss warning that Indonesia's handling of the East Timor situation could put the flow of funds to the country in jeopardy. Clinton too had said that investors would shy away from Indonesia if the Jakarta failed to resolve the law-and-order problem satisfactorily.  

VIPs Roll in as the Timor Drama Continues
APEC While New Zealanders and APEC-watchers awaited Clinton's arrival, on the ground in Auckland the East Timor issue continued to percolate. Nobel Peace laureate José Ramos-Horta, who had been in the U.S., flew in on Sept. 10 at the invitation of local activists. Based in Sydney, Ramos-Horta has become something of a de facto foreign minister for East Timor. There were reports too that Ramos-Horta's co-prizewinner Bishop Carlos Belo, who fled the beleaguered territory on Sept. 7, would also turn up (Belo instead headed for Europe). In Auckland, Ramos-Horta hit the ground running, meeting with officials and ministers and joining in the general diplomatic flurry. He was expected to see Clinton once the U.S. president was in town.

Meanwhile, Clinton's Mexican counterpart Ernesto Zedillo became the first APEC government chief to arrive in Auckland when his government plane landed just before sunrise. Later in the morning, the Sultan of Brunei, next year's APEC chair, flew in, piloting his own jumbo jet.  

A Communiqué Compromise
In the morning and early afternoon, trade and foreign ministers continued their negotiations on APEC's economic agenda in the city's Town Hall, finalizing the ministerial statement which was released in the afternoon and was expected to form the basis for the leaders' declaration to be issued following the retreat on Sept. 13. Neither East Timor nor any other political issue was mentioned in the ministers' communiqué. Instead, the document focused on APEC's priorities for the upcoming World Trade Organization conference in Seattle.

Neither East Timor nor any other political issue was mentioned in the ministers' communiqué. Instead, the document focused on APEC's priorities for the upcoming World Trade Organization conference in Seattle, which had been a main goal of APEC's official agenda from the start. The final document showed signs of compromise: to accommodate the U.S. preference for a so-called "early harvest" of liberalization commitments, the communiqué did not rule out this possibility. Some Asian economies, led by Japan and Malaysia, had resisted these commitments in favor of a more gradual strategy. (see APEC: Day Three)  

A Commandeered Press Conference
The late afternoon press conference by ministers proved more entertaining than the document it was meant to discuss. This annual set piece brings together the ministers of all the APEC economies and the media. As in previous years, Taiwan journalists tried to dominate the questioning, lining up at the floor microphones to fire pointed questions at China's representatives, while giving the Taiwan officials a chance to give their side. (APEC is one of the few international forums where China and Chinese Taipei, as Taiwan is known, sit at the same table.) After the first question from a Taiwan reporter, however, New Zealand Foreign Minister Don McKinnon interrupted. He had been to eight previous APEC meetings, he declared, and each time, Taiwan journalists played the same game. The question was ignored. Some journalists booed, while mainland officials in the balcony applauded.

Undeterred, the Taiwan reporters continued to step up to the mikes. One asked why Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong had not been invited to the special ministerial meeting on East Timor. Another wanted the Taiwan ministers to kindly elaborate on the island's contributions to APEC over the years. Though McKinnon tried to pass over the questions, Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan insisted on tackling them. He wanted to explain why Beijing has insisted that China should accede to the WTO ahead of Taiwan. That led to Taiwan's Economics Minister Wang Chih-kang demanding equal time. Taipei, he said, was ready for membership and deserved to join ahead of the mainland. More Taiwan questions followed. Exasperated, McKinnon ended the press conference early.


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