Wed, Feb 02, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Chen's diplomatic style wins praise

`BOA GAM CHIN' One member of his entourage to the nation's South Pacific allies used the Hoklo expression to explain how the president charms everyone he visits

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian yesterday returns from his recent diplomatic trip to the nation's allies in the South Pacific.


President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) trademark "A-bian style" diplomacy was once again on display during his recent diplomatic trip to the nation's allies in the South Pacific.

"President Chen was very cordial in his attitude and manner while interacting with others, which helped bridge the language barriers between him and foreign leaders he met," said former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Tao-ming (陳道明), who traveled with Chen to Palau and the Solomon Islands.

The features that characterize the president's manner when spearheading the nation's diplomacy abroad are being energetic and approachable, and getting others to closely identify themselves with him, Chen Tao-ming said.

For instance, when dining with President of Palau Tommy Remengesau and President of the Marshall Islands Kessai Note at a banquet held in Palau, Chen, noting that Taiwan, Palau and the Marshall Islands are all maritime countries who share similarities in terms of their maritime cultures, addressed both Remengesau and Note as his "elder brothers" in his speech.

Such friendly style of addressing others helped close the distance between him and the two national leaders, some observed.

During his stay in Palau, Chen made his first attempt at snorkeling during the second day of his state visit to the South Pacific nation, which is famous for its diving spots. He also rode on a speedboat driven by Remengesau, for a sightseeing tour of Palau's Rock Island.

When his travel took him to the Solomon Islands, a beaming Chen, rather than simply leaving after the banquet held in his honor, approached the local performers who were dancing and performing with bamboo-made panpipes.

Chen was seen making a go at playing the local traditional drum as surrounding performers of the Solomon Islands eagerly played along.

"Such actions undoubtedly left a favorable impression with the locals," said Chiayi County Commissioner Chen Ming-wen (陳明文), another member of Chen's entourage.

During a gathering with the Taiwanese press corps traveling with him, Chen noted that "it is very hard for [Taiwan's] national leader to promote diplomatic affairs. That's why in the past our heads of nation did not make visits to countries such as those in the Africa or Central America where there are allies of ours with whom we have decades of diplomatic ties."

"I can proudly say that the allies that I have visited are the ones that still have diplomatic ties [with Taiwan]," Chen said, adding that "all those that have severed ties with Taiwan are ones that I have not visited."

"A-bian style of diplomacy is one that plays much on boa gam chin (搏感情) with the foreign leaders and their people," Chen Tao-ming added. Boa gam chin is a Hoklo expression meaning to establish emotional and personal ties with others.

By no means does that mean that Chen's diplomatic trip to the South Pacific was all play and no work, Chen Tao-ming pointed out.

In this trip, international media such as the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC) and the Kyoto News of Japan dispatched reporters to travel along with Chen.

Images of Chen trying snorkeling and being kissed by a dolphin while in Palau were captured by the international media and broadcast to the world, raising Taiwan's visibility.

Chen also took every opportunity, whether in his speeches at the parliaments in Palau and the Solomon Islands or in remarks at state banquets, to let the world hear Taiwan's eagerness for peace, and determination to consolidate its democracy, observers said.

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