Wed, Jul 23, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Wu wraps up European trip with tea for journalists

ROMAN HOLIDAY The first lady said her visits to Berlin and Rome had been successful and that Taipei should expand its contacts with foreign parliaments

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER IN ROME

First lady Wu Shu-chen receives a humanitarian service award from Alfredo Luciani, president of the Rome-based Carita Politica association, on Monday night.

PHOTO: CHU PEI-HSIUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

First lady Wu Shu-chen (吳淑珍) said on Monday that the best strategy for developing Taiwan's diplomatic sphere is to expand relationships with the parliaments in various countries because the lawmakers usually represent public opinion and their freedom of speech enables them to help this nation's influence their governments' policies.

Wu made the comment in Rome as she wrapped up her week-long trip to Germany and Italy with a tea party for Taiwanese journalists covering her travels.

She said she had completed all her planned missions during the trip. She said that she had felt the passion of the German people, the courtesy of the Italian government and the high regard the Pope has for Taiwan.

Wu also said that she did not think that the Holy See would establish diplomatic ties with China anytime soon because Beijing still does not allow freedom of religion.

Wu said that European governments and the US maintain a "one China" policy but that it was a different story with the parliament or legislatures in those countries. She has given a speech to the US Congress on a previous trip and she visited the German parliament on this trip.

"The administration's policies would deem the country's welfare as its first priority, but the parliament would be more lax with that principle. As US congress members need the votes of Chinese-Americans, they are willing to interact with Taiwan," Wu said.

"As long as it is a guest invited by the parliament, the administration has no reason not to show respect and cooperate to greet a guest. So Taiwan should reinforce its diplomatic work by working on the parliaments in various countries," Wu said.

When asked about what concrete results were achieved during her delegation's trip, Wu said that she was proud to be able to promote Taiwan through the National Palace Museum exhibition in Berlin, which she described as a magnificent cultural exchange.

She said her trip could become the basis for future developments between Taiwan, Germany and Europe.

Wu said that media in Berlin, Rome and other places in Europe had given her visit good coverage, and the exhibition and the visit to the Pope were both completed satisfactorily, so she did not disappoint the president or the people of Taiwan.

But she also expressed regret for not being able to interact with important German officials.

"When it comes to the relationship between Taiwan and the Vatican City, we can see the Pope's high regard for Taiwan because he made an exception to receive us on a Sunday," she said. "Of course, Italy also showed a great deal of friendliness toward Taiwan, but diplomacy takes time and is not something to be hurried. As long as we continue to make efforts we will see progress."

Wu said that when she shook hands and chatted with Pope John Paul at his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, she saw that he was not in good condition.

She noted that despite his ill health he still had to dress in heavy vestments despite the hot weather.

"Sitting in a wheelchair is not an easy job, but compared with the Pope, I am much freer," Wu said.

Several reporters pressed Wu to comment on the nation's judicial system, since in a letter she delivered to the Pope she had said that she was willing to forgive those involved in the 1985 incident that left her paralyzed. The reporters asked Wu if she wanted a new investigation into the case.

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