Thu, Aug 10, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Government plans to import workers from Pacific allies

DPA , TAIPEI

The government plans to import workers from the nation's six Pacific island allies as an incentive to prevent the countries from recognizing China, local media reported yesterday.

"The Foreign Ministry and the Council of Labour Affairs are making the feasibility study regarding importing workers from Pacific allies. If everything goes well, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) may make the announcement at his summit with Pacific leaders next month," the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times' sister paper) quoted an unnamed official as saying.

The official said that Taiwan does not want to engage in dollar diplomacy with China, which is trying to win over the nation's 24 diplomatic allies, but would take active steps to preserve ties with these allies.

"When Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) visited Fiji in April, he announced a US$375 million loan for Pacific states recognizing Beijing and added the Pacific island state to the list of destinations for Chinese tour groups," the official said.

"We do not want to engage in dollar diplomacy because our annual diplomatic budget is just US$390 million, but we have concrete measures to help improve the livelihood of our allies. China makes empty promises. That's why Nauru cut ties with us to recognize China in 2002, but resumed ties with us in 2005," he said.

Chen will visit Palau next month to launch Taipei's first regular summit with the leaders of the six Pacific allies: Marshall Islands, Palau, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati and Nauru.

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