Stories of Taiwan’s foreign aid endeavors touch the heart, former minister of foreign affairs Frederick Chien (錢復) said this week at the launch of a new book of such stories.
Chien, who served as foreign minister from 1990 to 1996, recounted one of the stories while addressing the event.
It related how a member of a technical mission stationed in the Central African Republic fell sick after realizing the wishes of then-Central African Republic president Ange-Felix Patasse to breed shrimp there.
Chien said the story took place when Taiwan maintained diplomatic relations with the African nation and its president had expressed hope that his country could breed shrimp.
A specialist in shrimp cultivation, surnamed Hsieh (謝), at the technician mission was then asked to help, Chien added.
Hsieh had baby shrimp air freighted from Taipei, but never succeeded in keeping them alive.
Fearing he would not be successful, Hsieh hiked into the mountains of the land-locked nation for 10 days and 10 nights in search of sources of shrimp.
He walked all the way to the mountain creeks in the Republic of Congo, where he finally found shrimp and took them back to the Central African Republic.
After Hsieh released the shrimp in ponds, Patasse embraced the specialist and expressed his thanks to the Republic of China, Chien said.
Later, the specialist fell sick from malaria, and Chien said that when he visited the Central African Republic, Hsieh was too sick to get out of bed.
In a very weak voice, Hsieh thanked Chien for his visit and asked him not to approach, because his disease was contagious, Chien said, adding that at that moment, he was deeply touched.
“Those foreign aid personnel are the nation’s pride,” Chien said.
The 81-year-old politician was one of four former foreign ministers, along with Chen Chien-jen (程建人), Tien Hung-mao (田弘茂) and James Huang (黃志芳), who attended the book launch and the opening of an exhibition, which runs to Friday next week, of the results of Taiwan’s international cooperation programs.
The 204-page book, titled Thinking Big to Embrace the World, was published by the government-funded International Cooperation and Development Fund to mark the 20th anniversary of the fund’s founding.
The fund was established in 1996 to boost Taiwan’s international cooperation; help promote economic development of pro-Taiwan and developing nations; expand bilateral economic exchanges; and strengthen friendships and diplomatic ties with foreign countries.
The fund is tasked with implementing Taiwan’s technical cooperation programs with allies and friends.
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