Sun, Jul 20, 2003 - Page 3 News List

First lady upbeat about nation's political future

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN BERLIN

First lady Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍) said yesterday that she believed Taiwan would eventually enjoy the dignity and status of an independent country in the international community only if all 23 million Taiwanese continue to fight for it.

Wu opened the "The Treasures of the Sons of Heaven" exhibition, held by the National Palace Museum, in Berlin on Thursday.

On Friday evening the museum's curator, Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝), threw a dinner party for guests from Taiwan, Germany and other European countries. During the party, Wu accepted an award for her long-term promotion of the welfare of the physically handicapped.

Wu said that the main purpose of the exhibition was to help Germany and other European countries learn more about Taiwan's people and culture even in the absence of diplomatic ties.

At the dinner party, Wu met prominent politicians from the Netherlands, Czech Republic and the UK.

In a speech during the dinner, Wu did not follow her draft and instead promoted Taiwan's democratic achievements and highlighted China's repression of Taiwan's people.

"Taiwan is a beautiful land with abundant resources, and it is a democratic country," she said. "Most of its 23 million hard-working people are highly educated, but due to political reasons the country still cannot join international organizations and is treated unequally.

"But I believe that as long as the Taiwanese people continue to work hard, we can enter international organizations eventually, obtaining our deserved status and dignified life in international society."

Meanwhile, major European media, including CNN's European branch and Russian television, were present to interview Wu, breaking an understanding between Taiwan and the German government about Wu remaining discreet during the trip.

"The first lady's personality makes her Taiwan's super diplomat. It is even easier for her, with her style and manners, than the president to earn international friendship," said Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), deputy secretary-general of the President Office.

Wu also disputed PFP Chairman James Soong's (宋楚瑜) accusation that the culture tour was using "the National Palace Museum collection to buy an entry ticket to Germany."

"Why was there no Taiwanese artefact presented [in the exhibition]?" he asked.

Wu responded by saying that if we cannot respect ourselves first, then it is impossible to ask for others' respect.

Wu said that the National Palace Museum collection did not belong to a particular person, and she did not deny that it was brought to Taiwan when the KMT was fighting with the communists during the civil war.

"According to Soong, the collection should have been returned to China," Wu said. But since it belonged to the Taiwan government, the government should have the right to put it on exhibition overseas, Wu said.

Wu departed for Rome and the Holy See yesterday morning and in the evening attended a dinner party hosted by Taiwan's ambassador to the Vatican Raymond Tai.

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