Sat, Jun 12, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Lu suggests diplomacy changes

`UNEVEN PERFORMANCE' The vice president said that her trip abroad had shown her that the nation's diplomatic offices in Central America are not working together very well

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday criticized as uneven the performance of Taiwan's diplomatic missions in Latin America, saying that the government should assign an ambassador-at-large to oversee diplomacy in the region and to better integrate resources and talent.

Lu, who on Thursday completed a two-week state visit to Taiwan's three allies in Central America, said she found that the performance of the nation's diplomatic offices in those three countries needs to be improved.

"Regional integration is a global trend, and our diplomats should follow this development and avoid a situation in which each office does things in its own way," she said.

integration

"I would like to see the Minister of Foreign Affairs dispatch to the region an ambassador-at-large who is fluent in Spanish and well-versed in the economic and political situations in all of Latin America. The ambassador-at-large would enhance the coordination of offices there and organize a team to facilitate Taiwan's efforts to enter into major regional organizations," Lu said.

The Presidential Office yesterday held a news conference to discuss the vice president's trip. Lu used a world map as a prop, saying that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Premier Yu Shyi-kun would visit other allies in the region in the next few months.

Adding that Chen has taken note of the successful integration of EU countries, Lu said that Taiwan's diplomats should learn from the EU and immediately endeavor to gain formal membership for the nation in the System for Integration in Central America (中美洲統合體, SICA), especially in order to join a future free-trade group for the Americas.

"Though the United States has encouraged all American countries to support Taiwan's bid to enter the free-trade zone as an observer, Taiwan, which has 13 allies in the region, needs support from nine more countries," Lu said.

"Judging from my experiences on this trip, our three embassies have uneven capabilities. Diplomatic personnel should cooperate and share their resources," she said.

Lu said that the nation needs to fundamentally alter the way it goes about diplomacy.

fishing metaphors

"The diplomatic policy of the former government was often criticized as `money diplomacy,' and some of the financial assistance that Taiwan provided has even turned into private property. Now we must use a completely different approach," she said, saying that the policy should be "neither to make presents of fish, nor to provide fishing rods," but to invite other countries to develop a joint "fishing culture."

Lu said that in Asia, the people of Taiwan should look at the the pan-Pacific region as whole, instead of focusing too narrowly on the relationship with China.

Asked by the media to explain her "personal" suggestion of calling the country "Taiwan ROC," Lu said that her motive in making the suggestion was to facilitate reconciliation between the pan-blue and pan-green camps.

"President Chen fully understands that my idea has nothing to do with the constitutional reform process," Lu said.

"What I was talking about was the issue of national identity, which includes the dispute about the name of our country," she said, "and I expect that my suggestion will do some good for the country."

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