Taiwan signed a joint communique with seven of its diplomatic allies in Central America and the Caribbean on Thursday, but a proposal that the document also include a clause stating that Taiwan is an independent nation that deserves to join international organizations such as the UN and WHO was left out of the document.
Leaders from Guatemala, El Salvador, Belize, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras and the Dominican Republic put pen to paper during the ceremony, where it was also revealed that Taiwan has offered NT$330 million (US$10 million) over the next 10 years to help its allies nurture and develop technical talent.
President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) did not seem to be overly concerned about the omission of the clause when approached by Taiwanese reporters for comment after the summit.
"It's OK that they express their support for us in other ways and means as long as we reach the goal," he said.
Chen said it was common knowledge that not all of the nation's diplomatic allies supported Taiwan's attempts to join international organizations.
While different countries have different reasons for their stances, Chen said that he could understand their difficulties and believed it would not affect the relations between Taiwan and its allies.
Chen, who was scheduled to leave for El Salvador yesterday, is in Central America on a three-nation visit.
He said that he had planned to announce the 10-year, US$10 million project at the summit, but Nicaragua brought it up first, so he responded.
"We are not writing a check here, but doing something that is meaningful for our friends," he said.
Chen said that Taiwan's foreign aid as a percentage of the nation's GDP was considerably lower than the UN standard recommendation of 0.7 percent.
Taiwan used to accept aid from other countries, but now it is time to help others, he said.
Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳) said that the government would commence channeling the money next year, and added that the public should not interpret the aid as "checkbook diplomacy."
Among the proposals that Taiwan "gladly accepted" in the communique was a study of the possibility of establishing a fund to assist the nation's diplomatic allies in Central America and the Caribbean with the improvement of their infrastructure.
Another was to encourage state-run businesses in Taiwan to invest in the region and also to use the "Jung Pang Project" in a more flexible manner.
The "Jung Pang Project" refers to the investment project worth NT$7.5 billion that Chen announced during his last visit to Central America in October 2005.
The funding was allocated to promote the development of the nation's allies in Central and South America by coordinating non-governmental resources to invest there.
Regarding a US$300 million hydroelectric power station that Taiwan plans to help Honduras construct, Chen said that it was not a new development, and that Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (
This was when Wang acted as Chen's representative at the inauguration ceremony for Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.
The US$5 million low interest loan to Honduras was not new either, Chen said, as the International Cooperation and Development Fund approved the budget in March.
Meanwhile in Taiwan, the Chen's promise to help build the hydroelectric plant in Honduras provoked more debate between the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucuses yesterday.