The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Canada received high acclaim from the Embassy, the North American country’s influential foreign policy newsweekly, over its centennial Double Ten National Day celebrations held in Ottawa on Oct. 5.
The weekly paper described the ceremony as “one of the most well-attended diplomatic parties in months” in Ottawa and “a show of political firepower unmatched by other foreign missions as of late” in an article published on Wednesday.
Although Taipei does not have diplomatic relations with Ottawa, which has a “one China” policy and does not officially recognize Taiwan, the ceremony drew 68 members of parliament (MP), seven senators and “four big gun Cabinet members,” the paper said.
The four Canadian Cabinet members were Minister for the Federal Economic Initiative for Northern Ontario Tony Clement, Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews, Minister of Veterans Affairs Diane Finley and Immigration and Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney, it said.
The newsweekly quoted Representative to Canada David Lee (李大維) as saying that the strategy behind Taiwan’s success at courting both Conservatives and opposition members alike was “all about building bonds.”
The main concepts employed in the strategy were guanxi, which means “building connections or a relationship,” and mianzi, “self image,” which relates to the need for a certain level of social status and reputation, Lee was quoted as saying.
Lee told the newsweekly that Taiwan had “a lot of sympathy and support from the MPs.”
“They know that we are disadvantaged when you compare the situation with our big brother across the Taiwan Strait, and therefore there is a lot of support,” the paper quoted him as saying.
TECO hosts other popular major events annually, where even senior officials such as Lee himself personally supervise the catering to “guarantee an authentic Taiwanese flavor” and where media coverage is actively facilitated and monitored continuously, the newsweekly said.
The paper also noted a controversy over a report from the ethics commissioner’s office in Ottawa earlier this year that the expenses for many visits by MPs to Taiwan were covered by the Taiwanese government.
“The most controversial result of these concepts being implemented is how Taiwan also funds the travel for many Canadian MPs, 23 of whom visited the island last year on all-expenses-paid trips, more than to any other country,” the paper said.
The report said the expenses, including airfares and hotel accommodation, were all paid by a Taiwanese lobby group, the Chinese International Economic Cooperation Association, the paper said.
Lee said TECO helped organize three or four visits annually for parliamentarians to witness the democratic developments taking place in Taiwan and for them to become better acquainted with the culture so that word could be passed around.
In his nation’s defense, Lee said that such junkets are paid for because they are not covered by official parliamentary expense accounts, which allow Canadian parliamentarians to visit their counterparts in other countries, the newspaper said.