Wed, Feb 13, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Diplomatic efforts face a tough two years, Huang saysST

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan's diplomatic efforts will face increased difficulty over the next two years because of China's intensifying efforts to limit the nation's international space, Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳) said yesterday on the first working day after the Lunar New Year break.

Speaking to reporters after a welcome-back ceremony for ministry staff, Huang said that China would undoubtedly intensify its efforts to squeeze Taiwan's international space, especially with the approach of the Beijing Olympics in August.

"It will be two very arduous years no matter who is at the helm of the government," he said.

Huang said in the upcoming year Taiwan would continue to nurture its US ties by establishing a smoother communication channel with Washington.

He revealed one of the projects that the ministry is working on is to lobby the US government for visa-waiver privileges for Taiwanese passport holders.

A major personnel reshuffle at ambassadorial level is also scheduled to take place this year, Huang said, noting that many of the older ambassadors who are near retirement would be replaced by younger faces.

The new assignments would be announced by the end of the month, he said.

During his address, Huang thanked staff for their diligence and pledged to raise tuition subsidy for the children of ministry personnel stationed overseas.

The minister said many people have the misconception that those stationed outside of Taiwan are luckier because their salaries are higher.

That was not so, Huang said. He said an example was when the home of an ambassador stationed in South America was robbed and the representative and his wife were tied up during the ordeal.

Huang also announced that two new dormitory buildings would be erected in the next two years to accommodate personnel who are in transition prior to, and after, overseas assignments.

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