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Thu, Oct 19, 2000 - Page 2 News List

New blood to be infused into the diplomatic corps

OUT WITH THE OLD Taiwan needs to replace many of its aging diplomats, says the foreign affairs minister, and special attention will be paid to building ties with the EU

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

With Taiwan's diplomatic corps expected to witness an unprecedented personnel reshuffle beginning in late October, analysts said yesterday that the move was necessary if Taiwan's depleting diplomatic force were to be fully replenished.

"Such a large-scale reshuffle is a must," said Teng Chung-chian (鄧中堅), chairman of the department of diplomacy at National Chengchi University, adding that the move could "boost the morale" of Taiwanese diplomats.

Responding to reports that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was to start a large-scale reshuffle soon, foreign minister Tien Hung-mao (田弘茂) said on Monday that the major purpose of the personnel readjustment, which is to focus on Taipei's representatives in EU countries, is to emphasize that enhancement of Taiwan's relations with EU states has become the top item on the foreign ministry's agenda.

"We definitely need capable and experienced diplomats in their 50s to go and work in EU countries in order to open a new stage in Taiwan's ties with the EU, which has become one of the major focuses of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) foreign policy initiatives," Teng added.

Taiwan's representative offices in Italy, France, Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands and Germany are to see new heads at the ambassador level, said foreign ministry officials, who refused to be named.

Over half of the foreign ministry's director-generals in charge of regional affairs will be involved in the reshuffle, MOFA officials said.

Tien held a confidential meeting two weeks ago in Hsinchu with these director-generals to appraise their general understanding of regional affairs and to ascertain whether they would be willing to cooperate in the upcoming reshuffle, foreign ministry officials said.

Tien has stressed that ambassadors above the age of 68 would be encouraged to retire from their current posts, and that those who did not have strong experience in diplomatic affairs would top his list for replacement.

Seventy-one-year-old Hsia Tien (夏甸), Taiwan's incumbent de facto ambassador to Austria, for instance, would retire from his post in Vienna. Taiwan's representative to the Netherlands Ku Chung-lien (顧崇廉), 69, would also retire, sources said. Both Hsia and Ku are former army generals.

Sixty-eight-year-old Chen Yu-chu (陳毓駒), Taiwan's incumbent de facto ambassador to Denmark, would also retire.

Teng said the key consideration for the scholar-turned-foreign minister in carrying out the reshuffle was to seek "appropriate" diplomats capable of "realizing the foreign policy objectives" of the administration.

"Although age is one of the key variables, another major consideration is whether the prospective appointees can carry out the major objectives of the foreign ministry under the new administration," Teng said.

The removal of ageing ambassadors, of course, could allow younger talent from Taiwan's diplomatic corps to work in the front line, thus revitalizing the corps, Teng said.

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