Tue, Nov 27, 2007 - Page 4 News List

MOFA slams China over Dublin post

INTERFERENCE The ministry rejected a report that Ireland had turned down Parris Chang's appointment, while Annette Lu was quick to defend Chang's qualifications

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Taiwan's representative-designate to Ireland, Parris Chang (張旭成), has been unable to assume office since being appointed in early September because of Chinese obstruction, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Deputy Spokeswoman Phoebe Yeh (葉非比) said yesterday.

"Unexpected obstruction has emerged in this case and we have proceeded in accordance with standard operating procedure," Yeh said. "We have assessed that it was China that was standing in the way."

Yeh called a press conference in response to a report published in yesterday's United Daily News.

The Chinese-language newspaper said that Ireland had put off its approval of Chiang as his appointment was announced unilaterally by Taipei without prior consultation with Dublin.

Chang was officially appointed to the position on Sept. 5.

Dismissing the report, Yeh said the newspaper misled the public into thinking that Taiwan needed consent from Ireland before nominating its representative.

"In most cases, we don't need approval for such appointments from countries that don't have diplomatic relations with Taiwan," Yeh said.

Yeh also denied that Israel, India and New Zealand had all rejected Taiwan's appointment of Chang as their representative, as the report stated.

Yeh said the ministry would continue to negotiate with Ireland on the matter, adding that the appointment hadn't been turned down by Dublin.

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday criticized China for its narrow-mindedness in blocking Chang's appointment.

Lu said Beijing's action stemmed from its dislike of Chang, who had served as deputy secretary-general of the National Security Council (NSC).

"Chang has extensive experience in public office, has an excellent educational background and is an expert in Chinese military affairs," Lu said.

"Beijing is responsible for the whole thing, not the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. China is simply too narrow-minded," Lu said.

Chang, who is close to Lu, has been a controversial figure. When Chang served in the NSC, then council secretary-general Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) was reportedly upset by Chang's alleged leaking of national security information.

Lu reacted by giving Chiou a dressing down during a high-level meeting chaired by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). Chiou later reportedly apologized to Lu.

Media reports also said Chang is on bad terms with Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳). The two reportedly had an argument during the president's trip to Latin America last year after Chang revealed to the media that Lebanese arms dealer Iskandar Safa had brokered Chen's transit through the United Arab Emirates.

In 2001, Chang was accused by a woman of sexual harassment. The Democratic Progressive Party, however, said it was an "extramarital affair" and therefore refused to intervene. The woman later attempted to commit suicide but was saved.

Meanwhile, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator John Chiang (蔣孝嚴), a former minister of foreign affairs, said MOFA had made a fool of itself by allowing Chang to assume office before Ireland agreed to his nomination.

Chiang said the way MOFA handled Chang's nomination was "greatly flawed."

"This is unprecedented. In the past, MOFA would obtain other countries' consent [before a representative was appointed]," Chiang said.

"[What MOFA has done] is an international joke," he said.

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