Tue, Nov 28, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Representative office in Brunei to reopen: MOFA

GOOD TIES The ministry said that the Southeast Asian nation's show of goodwill and the request by overseas Taiwanese prompted the decision to restore the office

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan's representative office in Brunei, which was closed in March, will be reestablished in two months because of the goodwill that the Southeast Asian country has shown recently, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday.

The ministry shut down the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Brunei Darussalam on March 17, saying that lukewarm bilateral ties had made it pointless to maintain an office in the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan.

The ministry said in a statement then that as Brunei had been abiding by the "one China" policy, it had shirked from promoting bilateral ties with Taiwan despite the establishment of reciprocal representative offices in Brunei and Taiwan.

The Brunei office was Taiwan's second overseas representative office to be shut down, following the closure of the Belarus office in January.

But MOFA Spokesman David Wang (王建業) said yesterday that the government has decided to restore the representative office after Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳) reexamined the ministry's deployment of human resources.

Some Taiwanese residents in Brunei had also told the ministry that the closure of the representative office had affected their business and life and hoped that the ministry could reopen the office, Wang said.

"Meanwhile, Brunei is a oil-producing country and Taiwan has demand for energy as well," Wang said.

Taiwan has no diplomatic allies in Southeast Asia. Bearing that in mind, maintaining good relations with Brunei -- an ASEAN member -- would be beneficial to Taiwan, Wang said.

"In fact, Brunei has shown its goodwill to Taiwan and maintained good interaction with us, which is also a factor behind our decision to resume operations of the representative office," Wang said, while declining to elaborate on what he meant by a show of goodwill and interaction.

The representative office will reopen in two months since the ministry still needs to take care of some paperwork and appoint personnel, Wang said.

Chief of the Directorate General of Customs Yu Shaw-wu (俞邵武) will take charge of the representative office in Brunei.

Taiwan established a trade mission in Brunei under the name of a private consortium in 1978. The trade mission was only formally endorsed as the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Brunei Darussalam in 1996.

Brunei's government is a constitutional sultanate. The country has an area of 5,770km2, one-sixth the size of Taiwan, with a population of about 300,000. Brunei benefits from extensive petroleum and natural gas fields, the source of one of the highest per capita GDPs in the developing world.

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