President Chen Shui-bian (
"We are not here to write checks and engage in a check-writing contest," he said. "I did not bring any checkbook here nor have I ever used one before. We are here to establish a long-term, feasible cooperative mechanism and further partnership. That is the essence of the summit."
Chen made the remarks while addressing the first annual Taiwan-Pacific Allies Summit in Palau yesterday morning. Leaders of the nation's six diplomatic allies in the region all attended the one-day event.
Chen's comment came in response to criticism on Sunday from a People First Party (PFP) legislator, who said that leaders of Nauru and the Solomon Islands made secret visits to Taiwan to engage in "diplomatic extortion" prior to Chen's visit.
Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (
"We don't have enough money to compete with China, nor is dollar diplomacy our policy," Huang told reporters before the summit began yesterday morning.
"I believe our six Pacific allies are well aware of the fact that we do not win their trust by money, but with practical programs," he said.
In the declaration, the nation's six allies expressed their support for Taiwan's achievements in political democratization and economic development.
"Taiwan's allies acknowledge Taiwan as a sovereign nation whose right to participate in international organizations, such as the United Nations and World Health Organization, cannot be taken away," the statement said.
"Taiwan's allies are committed to continuing their firm support of Taiwan's entitlement to undertake full involvement in international and regional organizations and initiatives," the statement said.
All leaders promised to cooperate in eight areas, including law-enforcement training, digital government, tourism, health care and the protection of natural resources.
Before Chen's speech, Palauan President Tommy Remengesau Jr. delivered a welcoming speech to the guests, with special appreciation extended to Chen, who took a scuba dive during a visit last January, for helping bring a large number of Taiwanese tourists to Palau.
"President Chen also proved that Palau's waters are surrounded by friendly sharks. And yes, Palau sharks are harmless because they're vegetarians," Remengesau Jr. said, drawing laughter.
Saying that the meeting was long overdue, Remengesau said that it only made sense that Taiwan's allies come together to expand their partnership.