Mon, Jan 07, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Low trust with US sours Malawi ties, Ma claims

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said the recent rumors about the instability of diplomatic ties between Taiwan and Malawi is a result of low trust in relations between Taiwan and the US.

Ma said many of the nation's allies evaluate their relations with Taiwan by assessing the level of US support for Taiwan.

He vowed to restore mutual trust between Taiwan and the US by strengthening Taiwan's diplomatic efforts toward the US.

"[I] will not be a trouble-maker but a peace-maker [if elected]," he said, adding that he was "certain" that this approach would help Taiwan establish diplomatic relations with other countries.

Ma made the remarks when asked by reporters for comment on the recent news concerning Taiwan-Malawi relations.

The abrupt cancelation of a meeting between Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳), who was en route to Malawi, and high-ranking Malawian officials on Thursday, prompted speculation that Malawi could be considering severing its 41-year-old ties with Taiwan.

Ben Mbewe, secretary for Malawi's foreign affairs office, claimed Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika was not available to receive Taiwan's envoy because "he was still on vacation" and that the government was not informed in time for Huang's visit.

Huang and his delegation were forced to make a last minute detour to another African ally, Swaziland.

Malawian Foreign Minister Joyce Hilda Banda was quoted in a Central News Agency (CNA) report on Saturday as saying that before Malawi reached a decision on changing relations with Taiwan or China, any reports or information about such a decision were pure speculation.

Costa Rican Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno extended similar reassurances last June -- two days before the country cut off six decades of ties with Taiwan in favor of ties with Beijing.

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