Mon, Jun 19, 2017 - Page 3 News List

‘Remain pragmatic’: former minister

By Lu Yi-hsuan and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A group of diplomatic officials and other Taiwanese on Wednesday participate in a flag-lowering ceremony at the Republic of China embassy in Panama City, Panama.

Photo: EPA

Foreign affairs personnel should remain pragmatic following last week’s severing of diplomatic ties with Panama, former minister of foreign affairs Chen Chien-jen (程建人) said on Saturday.

Chen recalled the difficulties faced by the ministry when ties with the US were severed in the 1970s, saying everyone was too busy negotiating with the US to gain benefits for Taiwanese to shed tears.

“China now occupies an advantageous position on the world stage. The diplomatic row [between Taiwan and China] that was once easing is on the table again,” Chen said. “Our staff are under great stress as China puts pressure on both our official and non-official allies.”

Chen said he hopes personnel would be driven to do an even better job, adding that diplomatic allies are crucial to the nation’s international recognition.

The loss of Panama will serve as a reminder to be especially vigilant in preventing the loss of the nation’s remaining allies, he said.

The government also needs to improve its internal circulation of information to better connect missions abroad with the central government, he added.

Missions need to know what is happening at home, as well as share developments in those nations with agencies in Taiwan, he said, adding that better communication would allow missions to better adapt to changing circumstances.

“They need to know who and what they are fighting for,” he said.

There are still many areas where improvements could be made to foreign affairs, former representative to the US Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡) said, adding that the government should give foreign affairs personnel a clear vision and direction for their work.

“We still have more than 100 representative offices abroad. There are many areas among them where we could be working harder,” he said.

The government should be making more practical statements in addition to its emotion-ridden remarks over the loss of diplomatic allies, Shen said, adding that the ministry needs a clear vision and specific plans to display more professionalism.

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