President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday asked the public not to apply double standards in examining the administration's foreign policy, saying that it is a money-losing business no matter who is in power.
"When we were poorly off, did other countries offering assistance ask us to give them anything in return?" Chen said. "Why do we want to ask our diplomatic allies to repay our aid and endorse our UN bid? Isn't such a mindset ridiculous?"
Chen made the remarks while chatting with the Taiwanese press corps in El Salvador. Chen left for Nicaragua yesterday -- the third and final leg of his three-nation visit.
Chen said over the years, some diplomatic allies attending the Taiwan-Central American summit had signed a joint communique to support Taiwan's accession to the UN, but had not spoken in favor of the bid at UN's General Assembly.
Panama and the Dominican Republic, for example, attended this year's summit but requested omission of Taiwan's proposal that a joint communique also include a clause stating that Taiwan is an independent nation that deserves to join international organizations such as the UN and WHO, Chen said.
Both countries asked for his understanding of their difficulties because of the sensitive position they are in, Chen said, adding that Panama is a non-permanent member of UN Security Council and the Dominican Republic is seeking to become a member.
Leaders finally came to a consensus to leave the proposal out of the document.
Chen, however, expressed gratitude to Panamanian President Martin Torrijos Espino, who sent Second Vice President Ruben Arosemena Valdes to the summit and personally delivered a letter from Torijos explaining the matter.
"We received help from other countries when we were poorly off. Now it's time for us to give back to the world," Chen said. "They did not owe us anything nor did they ask us give them anything in return. I don't understand why it was right for them to help us, but it is `checkbook diplomacy' when we help others."
Chen said the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration spent more than US$150 million securing diplomatic ties with Macedonia, but the relations lasted for only two years.
"China will never ease its oppression of Taiwan no matter who becomes the president next year," he said. "I'm asking the media to think before they write and apply the same standards when looking at the present administration and the former KMT government."
Also on Saturday, Chen donated 500 motorcycles to El Salvador to help improve social order.
Chen handed a symbolic key to El Salvador's police chief, Rodrigo Avila Avilez, at a ceremony to mark the donation, which is worth US$1.5 million.
Addressing the ceremony, Chen said Taiwan made the offer in an effort to raise the Salvadoran police force's maneuverability and operational efficiency.
It is hoped that the donation will help facilitate Salvadorean President Antonio Saca's efforts to improve social order and police efficiency in El Salvador, Chen said.
He said that the motorcycles would be put to use immediately.
Additional reporting by CNA