Dozens of young protesters clashed with police and security guards outside the Presidential Office in Taipei on the evening of March 31 after the government unilaterally announced that Taiwan would join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), an international financial institution initiated by China.
After Taipei expressed its interest in joining the AIIB, Beijing said it would welcome Taiwan as long as it joined under the “one China” principle. Beijing’s terms also stipulated that Taiwan must apply through the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), the agency under the State Council that handles relations with Taiwan. Beijing does not recognize Taiwan’s sovereignty and regards Taiwan as a province, to be “re-united” by force if necessary. At this writing, the name under which Taiwan applied to join the AIIB remains unknown.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the government agency in charge of relations with China, faxed the Letter of Intent to the TAO at 7 pm on March 31. The TAO will then transmit Taiwan’s application to the Interim Secretariat of the AIIB.
Critics say that by agreeing to apply with the TAO rather than via the normal channels used to join international organizations, Taipei appeared to be conceding that Taiwan is part of China. The “One China” framework, a precondition for cross-strait exchanges that Chinese President Xi Jinping has vehemently reaffirmed in recent months, enjoys little support among the Taiwanese population, which cherishes its de facto status as an independent country.