Wed, Nov 02, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Ambassador to Senegal returns, relieved of duties

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan's ambassador to Senegal, Huang Yun-cheh (黃允哲), returned to Taiwan on Monday and was promptly relieved of his duties in the wake of Senegal severing diplomatic ties with the nation in favor of China, a foreign affairs official said yesterday.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Michel Lu (呂慶龍) said that Huang had met with Foreign Affairs Minister Mark Chen (陳唐山) on Monday afternoon for a detailed report on the matter. Lu said that Huang had promised to shoulder the responsibility for the nation losing another ally.

Lu said that as Huang's ambassadorship had been a political appointment, his position was terminated because he had nothing left to do in Senegal.

Senegal's move came as a shock to the nation as it gave no prior warning that it would resume diplomatic ties with Beijing. Huang was heavily criticized for not seeing any warning signs of an imminent diplomatic setback.

Senegal first established diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1960, but these were severed in 1964. In 1996, the two countries restored relations, which lasted until last Tuesday, when Senegal switched its diplomatic allegiance to Beijing.

According to Lu, Huang attributed his being unaware of the situation to "deliberate concealment" by Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade, who allegedly leaked the news to only a few aides around him. A number of top-ranking officials who have the president's ear were allegedly excluded from Wade's scheme to re-establish ties with Beijing.

Huang refused to speak to the press yesterday, saying he had already reported to Chen in detail, Lu said.

In other developments, it was reported on Saturday that Taiwan's relations with the Holy See are under threat, as the Vatican is preparing to break its ties with Taiwan and establish diplomatic relations with China within 18 months.

An anonymous source in the Vatican was quoted as saying that "it is not a question of whether the Vatican will reach a deal with Beijing, but when."

The issue that up to now has prevented the Vatican from establishing ties with Beijing is the Pope's right to appoint bishops in China. Officially Catholics in China can only attend state-sanctioned churches in a "Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association" led by bishops appointed by Beijing. However, underground Catholic practitioners reportedly number more than 8 million -- and are often persecuted by Chinese authorities.

Lu said he hadn't heard of the Vatican's alleged 18-month time-frame to beak ties with Taiwan and reiterated that, in the foreseeable future, China's lack of respect for religious freedom will remain a major block to normalizing its relations with the Vatican.

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