The former administration’s “diplomatic truce” policy belied the nation’s diplomatic predicament as Taiwan continues to face challenges caused by pressure from China, Premier Lin Chuan (林全) said yesterday.
“We were led to believe that there was no diplomatic predicament under the so-called ‘diplomatic truce policy,’ but the predicament remains and we have to face it,” Lin said during a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Yuan.
“If our participation in international organizations depends on China’s ‘charity,’ [Taiwan’s international presence] is an illusion,” Lin said in response to a question from Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) about the government’s foreign policy.
Saying China has suppressed Taiwan’s international space by forcing its exclusion from this year’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) assembly in Canada and the UN Climate Change Conference (COP22) in Morocco, Huang asked whether the government is to scale down diplomatic presence as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs prepares to close some embassies and overseas missions.
The ministry’s plan is aimed at a more efficient allocation of the government’s limited resources, not reducing diplomatic operations, Lin said, adding that the nation has to expand its international space by its own means.
The government aims to establish rapport with China on the basis of bilateral goodwill, Lin said, calling on Beijing to act more rationally.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖) asked if Lin was to become an “Executive Yuan chief executive officer” under President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) weekly policy coordination mechanism, with Tsai interfering with Lin’s authority.
Chen asked whether Tsai would impose her authority on the premier if there is a disagreement on major issues such as a proposed bill to implement a five-day workweek with a mandatory day off and a flexible “rest day.”
Lin said he would not disagree with the president on major issues because they always reach a consensus through discussions, but he also would not be a mere instrument of the president.
The weekly policy coordination meetings between the president and the Executive Yuan could facilitate policy implementation and allow the Executive Yuan to clarify policies and collect different opinions, Lin said.
In response to legislators saying that proposed legislation for a five-day workweek is aimed at eliminating seven national holidays, Lin said there was no problem of cutting national holidays.
“The legislation has been interpreted as an attempt to reduce holidays by seven days, which is not correct,” the premier said.
“There is no problem of reducing holidays, but the aim is to unify the nation’s various leave schemes,” he said.
Although the government is to cancel some holidays, there will be supportive measures in place such as the five-day workweek and modifications to the annual leave system, so the legislation should not simply be understood as cutting seven holidays, he said.
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