Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 193

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the demagogic leader of Russia’s ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), arrived in Taipei yesterday to kick off three days of talks with Taiwanese leaders. Zhirinovsky’s delegation is said to be forty-strong, and to include ten other members of his LDPR Duma faction, members of the party’s youth organizations, eight Russian correspondents and some Russian businessmen. Zhirinovsky told journalists in Taipei that, during his stay on the island, he wanted to promote economic cooperation between Russia and Taiwan as well as to establish relations between their respective parliaments (Itar-Tass, October 19). A report on October 16 said that Zhirinovsky’s meetings on the island would include talks with President Lee Teng-hui (Itar-Tass, October 16).

Zhirinovsky’s arrival on Taiwan elicited an immediate, angry response from Beijing. A Chinese Foreign Ministry statement voiced Beijing’s “profound concern” over the trip. It also expressed China’s objections to “staging any official exchanges with Taiwan,” and to “any actions that might lead to the forming of ‘two Chinas’ or ‘one China and one Taiwan.” The visit by Zhirinovsky’s faction, the statement continued, “runs counter to clear obligations Russia assumed on the matter of Taiwan” (Itar-Tass, October 19).

Russia has worked hard in recent years to build friendly and cooperative relations with its former communist rival, and has fully endorsed Beijing’s view that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China. Under a decree issued by Russian President Boris Yeltsin in September of 1992, all relations between Russia and Taiwan are strictly unofficial and nongovernmental.

That view was endorsed by Russian lawmakers earlier this year. In June the LDPR tried to place a bill on the subject of Taiwanese-Russian cooperation on the Duma’s agenda, but the effort was firmly rejected. Vladimir Lukin, the chairman of the Duma’s International Affairs Committee, said that the LDPR-sponsored bill proposed, in effect, that Taiwan be recognized as a sovereign country. He warned lawmakers against supporting the bill, which he said contradicted Russia’s constitution and its international obligations (Xinhua, June 3).