Tue, Sep 10, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan-Mongolia ties move on

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Taiwan and Mongolia will set up representative offices to promote bilateral relations. There have also been calls to dissolve the Cabinet's Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission. 'Taipei Times' staff reporter Ko Shu-ling talked recently with Hsu Chih-hsiung, director of the commission, about his thoughts on the proposal and the govenment's recent move

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Hsu: Government restructuring, which is a universal phenomenon, is intended to make the government more efficient and internationally competitive. Japan ... has only 12 government administrative entities; it's obviously too much to have 36.

Although the commission is comparatively small in terms of people and annual budget, I think it's right way to go to have the commission dissolved, because it's not necessary to have one particular entity to take care of Mongolian affairs since we've recognized the independence of Mongolia.

TT: How do you plan to take care of the commission's personnel and businesses then?

Hsu: As the commission's annual budget is about NT$160 million, there're only 61 people on staff. A large part of the commission's people and businesses would be transferred to the Mainland Affairs Commission, and the remaining portion would go to the foreign affairs ministry.

TT: Let's talk about the importation of Mongolian labor. Although the Council of Labor Affairs has pledged to import Mongolian labors no later than the end of next year, some critics have argued that such a policy is not a good one because Mongolian labors are bound to encounter language problems and cultural differences. What do you think of the argument?

Hsu: I don't think language or cultural differences should pose any problem. Or if they do, there must be something we can do to resolve them.

Although Mongolians are not highly educated, most of them have at least completed their junior high school education and the illiteracy rate there is low. They're also very hard workers. South Korea, which also imports Mongolian laborers, has given high marks to them.

TT: Regarding the issue of bilateral tourism, some have said the establishment of trade representative offices will do little to help boost the two countries' tourism industries because airplane tickets are expensive and local transportation in Mongolia is inconvenient. What are your thoughts on this?

Hsu: The plane tickets are, indeed, not cheap and Mongolia-bound flights are sparse and time-consuming, which consequently results in the small number of Taiwanese tourists that visits Mongolia.

To turn things around, I think -- fundamentally -- Taiwanese people must start to realize that a meaningful sightseeing trip is not only about staying at a five-star hotel and dining at an upscale restaurant, but also about seeing exotic scenery, experiencing different lifestyles and appreciating the exotic history and culture.

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