Wed, May 02, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Diplomatic policy needs change, lawmakers say

POACHING:A KMT lawmaker urged Beijing to refrain from intervening in Taiwan’s diplomatic affairs, saying it only creates distance between the two sides of the Strait

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

A police officer stands next to the Dominican Republic flag, left, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Tyrone Siu, Reuters

Lawmakers across party lines yesterday called for a new diplomatic strategy to curb a “domino effect” after the Dominican Republic shifted diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not alert to signs of the impending switch, such as the Caribbean nation ignoring Taipei’s request that it advocate for Taiwan’s attendance at the World Health Assembly next month as an observer, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus secretary-general Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) said at a news conference in Taipei

The incident was particularly ironic considering that Taiwan this year gave the Dominican Republic 50 high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles, or Humvees, with a two-year warranty that reportedly cost NT$70 million (US$2.36 million), Lee said.

The Dominican Republic switching diplomatic recognition followed Panama’s cutting of official ties with Taiwan in June last year, indicating that Beijing’s move to poach Taiwan’s diplomatic allies has created a domino effect, she said.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration should devise new strategies to keep up with the diplomatic challenges facing the nation instead of telling the public that it “has since received intelligence” after the nation loses a diplomatic ally, Lee said.

KMT caucus deputy secretary-general William Tseng (曾銘宗) ascribed the incident to deteriorating cross-strait relations after the DPP became the ruling party and Premier William Lai’s (賴清德) assertion that he is a “political worker who advocates Taiwanese independence.”

Tseng urged Beijing to refrain from intervening in Taiwan’s diplomatic affairs, saying it would not benefit cross-strait exchanges and would only put a distance between peoples on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

When former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was in office, the DPP criticized Ma’s “diplomatic truce” with China as diplomatic inactivity without realizing that Taiwan’s diplomatic space hinges on a “stable and cordial” relations with China, KMT Legislator Ko Chih-en (柯志恩) said.

DPP caucus secretary-general Ho Hsin-chun (何欣純) expressed “regret and anger” upon learning the news, saying it is time for the government to adjust its foreign policy to allow President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and her team to focus their efforts on maximizing Taiwan’s interests in the international arena.

DPP Legislator Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) questioned whether it is in the nation’s interests to define its diplomatic success by the number of allies it has, adding that he hoped Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) would propose new policies.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) also weighed in on the issue, saying: “China’s suppression of Taiwan is to be expected, so it is important that Taiwan’s economy and national defense be strong.”

Citing a passage from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War (孫子兵法) — “Rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive them” — Ko said that the nation cannot forever rely on the goodwill of others.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education said it is willing to help Dominican students who want to continue their studies in Taiwan.

Yang Shu-ya (楊淑雅), director-general of the ministry’s Department of International and Cross-Strait Education, said there are 91 Dominican students in Taiwan, including 21 in the Taiwan Scholarship Program.

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