Wed, Oct 01, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Businesspeople dubious about diplomatic truce

By Ko Shu-Ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwanese businesspeople based overseas yesterday expressed doubts about President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) proposal of a “diplomatic truce” with Beijing.

They peppered government officials with questions at a forum of the World Taiwanese Chambers of Commerce at the Grand Hotel in Taipei yesterday morning.

Yu Che-huang (尤徹煌), chairman of the Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce in Costa Rica, said he was one of the Taiwanese businesspeople who had lowered the national flag outside his establishment when the Taiwanese embassy in the Central American country was closed after the severance of diplomatic ties two years ago.

“I want to know whether it is true that the administration no longer needs Taiwanese businesspeople in Costa Rica to help the government conduct diplomatic tasks under Ma’s ‘diplomatic truce’ strategy,” Yu said.

He said Costa Rican parliamentarian Jose Manuel Echandi and former Costa Rican ambassador to Taiwan Oscar Alvares had written letters to Minister of Foreign Affairs Francisco Ou (歐鴻鍊), but neither Ou nor the ministry ever responded.

Yu presented copies of the two letters to Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Javier Hou (侯清山), who attended the meeting yesterday, and asked Hou to relay them to Ou.

Echandi plans to run in the presidential election in 2010 and has promised to resume diplomatic ties with Taiwan if elected, Yu said.

Yu and Katia Wu (吳惠芬), a member of the Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce in Costa Rica, said that even if the two countries were unable to re-establish a diplomatic relationship, a representative or trade office should be set up to offer assistance to the 4,000 Taiwanese living there.

Hou said it would be inappropriate to establish a representative office in Costa Rica at the moment, considering the current state of the relationship between China and Costa Rica.

The consent of the Costa Rican government is also required before a representative office could be opened there, Hou said.

Yu later told the Taipei Times that he was very unhappy with Hou’s answer and that it was a humiliation to Taiwanese businesspeople, who are still making efforts to help Taiwan develop relationships with non-allied countries.

“That kind of diplomat, with such erroneous thinking, is the main reason why we lose our diplomatic allies,” he said. “Instead of making good use of people like us who have close relationships with local officials, the administration distances itself from us.”

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