Fri, Aug 10, 2007 - Page 4 News List

David Lee makes a splash in Canada

TURNING HEADS Lee ranked third in a survey of the most influential ambassadors in Ottawa, behind the US and British ambassadors, even though technically he is not one

By Nadia Tsao and Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTERS IN WASHINGTON AND TAIPEI

He isn't sexy, particularly witty or well-dressed, and he may not be all that well versed in the latest political gossip. But there's something about David Lee (李大維), Taiwan's top representative in Canada, who is raising eyebrows in Ottawa's diplomatic circles within just four months of him assuming Taiwan's top quasi-diplomatic post there.

A survey by Embassy, a popular newsweekly on Canada's foreign policy, yesterday ranked Lee as third in its "Ambassador with the Most Influence" category, behind the US and British ambassadors to Canada, even though Lee technically isn't an ambassador.

And while Lee didn't rank at all in such categories as "Ambassador with the Best Hair" or "Sexiest Male Ambassador," among others, he did take first place for "Ambassador with the Best Business Lunches."

Powerbrokers in Ottawa, it seems, go gaga for lunch with Dave.

"I have been in the [diplomatic] business for over a quarter of a century. For me, I always do my homework," Lee was quoted as saying by Embassy after being told that he's all aces when it comes to hosting power lunches.

Lee became the top representative to Canada in April after Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), previously chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, replaced Lee as top representative to the US as part of a diplomatic personnel shuffle.

Known for being a suave diplomat, Lee has turned heads in Ottawa by exercising "ambassadorial" influence on a par with top official foreign statesman, including US and British Ambassadors to Canada, David Wilkins and Anthony Cary, who won first and second places, respectively, in the "Ambassador with the Most Influence" category.

As Canada does not officially recognize Taiwan, the nation's missions in Canada are mere "trade and cultural exchange" offices.

The survey is based on 54 responses from 125 foreign missions in Ottawa, members of parliament and other politicians, as well as academics, journalists and think tanks there, an Embassy report said.

"Not withstanding the fact that Taiwan is a tiny island, whose office in Ottawa isn't in fact an embassy proper, its representative, David Lee, was voted as the ambassador who throws some of the best business lunches, according to those polled in the survey," it said.

Chinese diplomats and their missions in Canada didn't rank in any of the 35 categories in yesterday's survey.

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