Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (李大維) yesterday dismissed speculation that the Vatican planned to establish diplomatic ties with China as “reheated leftovers,” saying that the government remains confident in Taipei’s diplomatic relationship with the city-state, despite challenges.
“Regarding Radio France Internationale’s report yesterday [Sunday], the article is actually based on ‘reheated leftovers.’ Allow me to use four words to describe it: Run of the mill,” Lee said on the sidelines of a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee yesterday.
Lee said more focus should be placed on the five-day Ninth Assembly of Chinese Catholic Representatives, which started yesterday in Beijing.
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
“The new leadership lineup to be announced after the conclusion of the assembly will provide us with more insights,” he said.
The assembly is deemed to be the most authoritative meeting of China’s state-owned church.
According to local news media, the gathering is to bring together bishops recognized and not recognized by the Vatican, as well as those who are considered illegitimate.
Lee said that Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials, whether stationed overseas or in Taiwan, have always remained highly vigilant in their determination to safeguard the nation’s relations with its diplomatic allies.
Asked about the condition of Taipei’s relationship with the Vatican, the country’s only European diplomatic ally, Lee said: “There are challenges, but we are confident.”
The minister was referring to a Chinese-language article published on Radio France Internationale’s Web site that said negotiations between the Vatican and Beijing about establishing diplomatic ties have reached the final stage.
During yesterday’s committee meeting, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) proposed a motion asking government agencies to use the title “Taiwan” as often as possible, or use the titles “Taiwan” and “Republic of China” in similar font sizes in government documents and treaties with non-diplomatic allies.
Wang said action needs to be taken to help the nation break the “one China” shackles, particularly after US president-elect Donald Trump called President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) “the president of Taiwan” and the publication of an article titled “Taipei’s name game — it’s time to let Taiwan be Taiwan” in US-based think tank Council on Foreign Relations’ journal Foreign Affairs this month.
The committee passed the motion after it was also backed by Wang’s DPP peers and New Power Party Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐).
In other developments, the ministry last night issued a statement accusing China of manipulating the “one China” principle.
The “one China” principle mentioned in the communique signed yesterday between China and Sao Tome and Principe cannot deny the fact that the Republic of China is an independent, sovereign nation, the statement said.
The statement came as a response to China signing an agreement to restore diplomatic relations with Sao Tome and Principe earlier yesterday, just days after the small African nation announced it had cut ties with Taiwan.
Additional reporting by AFP and staff writer
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