Official banquet for China but Taiwan dines alone

SYDNEY, Sept 5, 2007 (AFP) – When Chinese President Hu Jintao sits down to smoked chicken, prawns and lamb at a formal state banquet in Australia, it will be in stark contrast to the Taiwanese delegation’s APEC dinner. The Taiwanese held their dinner at a famous dim sum restaurant in Sydney’s Chinatown on Tuesday night and picked up the tab themselves.

The Chinese delegation, however, will be treated to a menu of modern Australian cuisine at a five-star Sydney hotel on Wednesday night at a dinner to mark the 35th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the countries.

“The only state dinner scheduled this week is with the Chinese president. It reflects our close ties, particularly in business, tourism and education,” a spokesman for New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma said.

The contrast comes partly from China’s importance as a major trading partner. But it also reflects the difficulty Australia faces as host to two economies which have had no formal links since they separated in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum brings the two rivals together each year at the summit of 21 world leaders.

The Taiwanese delegation, which is headed by business leader S