Wed, Aug 03, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Diplomat meeting is not political: Ma campaign

ELECTIONEERING?Ma’s campaign office said the first meeting of all Taiwan’s diplomats since 1996 had nothing to do with the election, or the suspension of Victor Chin

By Mo Yan-chih and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporters

President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) campaign office yesterday denied claims by a former envoy to Washington that a meeting with representatives to foreign countries later this month had anything to do with the presidential election.

In an article published yesterday, the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper), former envoy to Washington Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) raised questions about the timing of the meeting, which is to be held not long after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs suspended former representative to Fiji Victor Chin (秦日新) over alleged misconduct.

Scheduled to be held from Aug. 16 to Aug. 18, more than 80 heads of the country’s diplomatic missions and representative offices in overseas countries will gather in Taipei for a meeting organized by the ministry.

Ma, Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) and Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) are expected to attend the meeting.

Chin’s case highlighted the problem of information leaks at embassies and had a negative impact on January’s presidential election, Joseph Wu said, accusing the ministry of gathering representatives in Taipei for political purposes.

Ma campaign office spokesman Yin Wei (殷瑋) yesterday said the ministry organized the meeting to help foreign representatives better understand the political and economic situation in Taiwan and said the presidential election had nothing to do with it.

“As a former representative to the US, how could Joseph Wu make such groundless remarks? Are elections always more important in the eyes of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)?” he asked.

Yin said the foreign representatives are returning to Taiwan for the meeting, rather than being “recalled” by the ministry, urging the DPP not to connect every move made by administrative bodies with the election campaign.

“We hope the DPP can discuss national issues rationally and stop distorting issues for election purposes,” he said.

The ministry yesterday also denied the allegations.

The aim of the meeting will be to brainstorm strategies to advance the country’s external affairs and to help businesses tap overseas markets, ministry spokesman James Chang (章計平) said.

By listening to briefings by government officials, having talks with leaders in the business community and exchanging ideas with each other, the country’s diplomats and representatives can continue to serve the public and build on the diplomatic achievements made in the past three years under the guidance of Ma’s “flexible diplomacy” policy, Chang said.

The last time such a meeting was held was in August 1996 after former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) became the country’s first democratically elected president amid Chinese military exercises against Taiwan.

The ministry is not organizing the meeting to benefit the government in the coming presidential and legislative elections, but rather to flesh out strategies to implement the policy of “flexible diplomacy,” enhance Taiwan’s international image, strengthen risk management and better serve the people, Chang said.

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