Some lawmakers yesterday said that Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Vanessa Shih (史亞平) made a faux pas when she suggested that a lawmaker not choose North Korea as a travel destination.
A recent incident, in which the ministry learned of a non-official visit by three North Korean officials only after they have arrived, prompted discussion about the nation’s relationship with North Korea at a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee yesterday.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑) sought Shih’s views on his possible plan to tour North Korea and what attitudes Taiwanese people should hold toward the country.
In response, Shih said that North Korea is not a country she would suggest people choose as a travel destination because there are many more tour-worthy places in Taiwan and in other countries in the world.
When Hsieh said he, out of curiosity, still wanted to go there during his Christmas holiday, Shih suggested Hsieh “reconsider.”
Later on, KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) told Shih that he found her comments on North Korea “inappropriate” and “not diplomatic enough.”
Lin said that Taiwan should actively engage with as many countries in the world as possible. Some of the countries with which Taiwan has diplomatic relationships have authoritarian regimes, not a democracy, Lin said.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) and Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩) held a similar view.
Although there is no interaction at official level between Taiwan and North Korea, it is unnecessary to defame the country and discourage bilateral people-to-people exchanges, Tsai said.
Following the comments by lawmakers, Shih changed her stance and said that she respected each lawmaker’s right to decide where they would like to travel.