Thu, Nov 30, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Trade office in Nigeria to move in two weeks: Lee

By Lu Yi-hsuan and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer and CNA

Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee yesterday speaks at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, saying that Taiwan is paying close attention to the ongoing presidential election in Honduras.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

Taiwan’s trade office in Nigeria is to be relocated to Lagos within two weeks, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (李大維) said yesterday, after the Nigerian government ordered the office moved out of the capital, Abuja, reportedly due to Chinese pressure.

“Our staff in the mission is packing and will move the office to Lagos later this week or next week,” Lee told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.

Once the relocation is completed, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is to ask the Nigeria Trade Office in Taiwan to relocate as a retaliatory measure, he said.

The Nigerian government in January ordered Taiwan to move its office, change the name of the office by removing the title “Republic of China (Taiwan)” and reduce its staff.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday lauded the move, saying that it showed Nigeria’s “staunch support” for the “one China” principle that sees Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic of China.

Nigeria on March 31 demanded that office director Morgan Chao (趙家寶) leave the country, saying it could not guarantee his safety.

Chao has since returned to Taiwan.

On June 30, Nigerian military personnel sealed off the office and forced its staff off the premises.

In response, Taiwan twice summoned the acting director of the Nigeria Trade Office in Taipei to protest the African country’s moves against Taiwan’s interests, the ministry said.

Lee yesterday said he is concerned about the nation’s diplomatic relations with Palau, after China seemingly pressured that country and the Vatican into banning their nationals from visiting Taiwan.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) cited Beijing’s group tourism embargo on the Vatican and Palau, and asked Lee to comment on China’s intentions and the security of Taiwan’s ties with the two diplomatic allies.

Lee said that he has spent a significant amount of time and energy on Palau.

“I have been been picking my brains about the situation,” he said, adding that MOFA Director-General of East Asia and Pacific Affairs Winston Chen (陳文儀) is dealing with the situation.

While Chinese comprise the largest share of tourists to Palau, the latter country’s diplomatic policy is not solely guided by concerns for its tourism industry, Lee said.

When asked by Chiang how he would grade the Taiwan-Palau relationship on a scale of “red,” “yellow” and “green,” Lee said: “It is between yellow and green.”

Asked by Chuang about the nation’s ties with the Holy See, Lee said: “We have a good grip on it and we are confident.”

The nation’s relationship with Palau has experienced difficulties, but they were unrelated to Beijing’s tourism ban and has stabilized, a source said on condition of anonymity.

However, a reshuffling of the nation’s mission in Palau — led by Ambassador Michael Tseng (曾永光) — might take place soon, the source said.

Regarding the Honduran presidential election on Monday, Lee said that the ruling and opposition parties are running neck-and-neck, adding that the Honduran Supreme Electoral Tribunal is expected to announce the election results today.

The ministry has made contact with, and understands the agendas of, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla, Lee said.

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