Women are thriving in the nation’s diplomatic corps, with six of Taiwan’s diplomatic missions in Europe alone headed by female diplomats, the most at any one time in the country’s history.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) officials said that although some of the country’s diplomatic missions on other continents are also led by female diplomats, none of those areas have as high a concentration of female diplomatic mission chiefs as Europe.
The group comprises Representative to Denmark Lily Hsu (徐儷文), Representative to the Czech Republic Hsueh Mei-yu (薛美瑜), Representative to Finland Lin Ching-lien (林錦蓮), Representative to Greece Agnes Chen (陳華玉), Representative to Hungary Marietta Kaoliau (高青雲) and Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛), permanent representative to the WTO in Geneva.
Taiwan maintains an embassy at the Vatican, a permanent mission at the WTO headquarters in Geneva and representative offices in 21 European countries.
Ministry officials said overseas representative offices take care of visas and other affairs in countries where Taiwan has not set up representative offices.
Hsu is versed in the structures and operations of major international organizations and once headed the ministry’s Department of International Organizations. She has substantial overseas work experience, having worked at Taiwan’s representative offices in the UK and the US.
Hsueh impressed many lawmakers during her time as deputy director-general of the ministry’s Department of North American Affairs with her calm, reasoned and articulate style. She was credited with having helped former Representative to the US Jason Yuan (袁健生) restore bilateral trust between Taiwan and the US during her years as political division chief at the representative office in Washington.
Her current stint in Eastern Europe is widely seen as part of the government’s efforts to expand her vision and work experience.
Lin had been director-general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Sydney before assuming her current post as the country’s representative in Finland.
Ministry sources said Lin’s promotion from the post of director of the Bureau of Consular Affairs to leading the Sydney office was nearly unprecedented in the ministry’s history. She was credited with promoting the addition of “Taiwan” to the cover of Republic of China passports. Chen is known for her tireless efforts to lobby countries around the world to grant visa-waiver privileges to Republic of China passport holders.
Kao has climbed the diplomatic ladder from the lowest rung. Aside from relations with Hungary, she is also in charge of engagements with other Balkan countries where the ministry has not set up offices, including Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo, as well as services for Taiwanese expatriates in the region.
Lai, a former Mainland Affairs Council minister, took office as Taiwan’s new permanent representative at WTO headquarters in Geneva in the middle of the month. Diplomatic sources said Lai’s knowledge of economic affairs was the main reason for her appointment.