Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) yesterday left on his first official overseas trip since being sworn into office in May — a 12-day visit to two allies in Central America and the Caribbean, with transit stops in the US.
Before boarding at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Wu said he would represent President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) at the swearing-in ceremony of Dominican Republic president-elect Danilo Medina on Thursday.
Wu is scheduled to meet Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez Reyna and other officials. He will also visit vocational collaboration projects that Taiwan has been working on in the Caribbean country.
Following his trip to the Dominican Republic, Wu will visit Belize. He will be the first high-level Taiwanese official to visit since Ma toured there in May 2009.
His itinerary in Belize includes a visit to Central Farm, where Taiwanese agricultural technicians are helping to improve local farming techniques.
Taiwan used to receive aid from developed nations in the past, which helped the country progress and become prosperous, Wu said, adding that he hopes the collaborative projects can further strengthen ties with the allies.
On his way to the Dominican Republic, Wu will transit in New York and will return to Taiwan via Los Angeles on Aug. 24.
“The brief stay in New York is purely a transit,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Steve Hsia (夏季昌) said, in an apparent bid to keep the trip low profile.
Observers see Wu’s trip as a test of Ma’s policy of maintaining a “diplomatic truce” with China, aiming to end a decades-old rivalry that saw the two former rivals seeking to lure allies away from each other.
Both sides had accused each other of using generous financial packages to ensure the loyalty of governments or persuade them to switch allegiance, especially in Africa, Latin America and the Pacific.
Additional reporting by AFP