Tue, May 29, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Ebola donation still under discussion

LEGISLATIVE CRITICISM:Lawmakers asked if it might be better to give the money to another global group, or used at home, and questioned the solidity of ties with allies

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng, left, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu, center, yesterday take questions from legislators at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

Taiwan is still talking with the WHO about donating US$1 million to help fight Ebola, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) told lawmakers yesterday.

The legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee met to review Ministry of Foreign Affairs efforts and government policy in the wake of the loss of two diplomatic allies, the Dominican Republic and Burkina Faso.

Asked by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) about the government’s offer to donate US$1 million to the fight against Ebola, Wu said officials are still communicating with the WHO and are not sure if the donation would be accepted.

“Taiwan donated US$1 million to the WHO in 2014, which initially refused [the money], but later accepted it because it was donated through the US’ CDC Foundation,” he said.

The foundation is an independent nonprofit organization created by the US Congress to coordinate private funding and resources in support of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s health protection work.

When Tsai asked if the government had received a receipt for the donation and to whom it was addressed, Department of International Organizations Director-General Michael Hsu (徐佩勇) of the ministry said the receipt was addressed to the foundation.

By donating to the WHO, Taiwan can show that it is capable and willing to join the fight against Ebola, Wu said.

“This would be an opportunity to build cooperation with the organization, show other countries Taiwan’s willingness to help and to become involved in the fight against the virus,” he said.

The WHO secretariat has been very unfriendly to Taiwan, and over the past two years China has donated US$7 million to the organization, so making a donation to it through other nations would not make it acknowledge Taiwan’s contributions, Tsai said.

Donating to Doctors Without Borders or another organization might be better, the lawmaker said.

When Tsai asked if Eswatini, Taiwan’s sole remaining African ally, might establish ties with China given Beijing’s increasing pressure on the nation’s diplomatic allies, Wu said Eswatini’s ambassador had made it clear that his nation “disdains [Chinese] Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s (王毅) comments.”

Wang on Saturday said he hoped all African countries would appear in a “family photograph” to be taken at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing in September.

“The king of Eswatini will soon visit Taiwan and he will attend the graduation ceremony of his son. The visit will speak to the deep bond between Taiwan and Eswatini,” Wu said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ma Wen-chun (馬文君) said the ministry should stop providing financial aid to the nation’s diplomatic allies because too many of them have decided to sever ties as soon as they receive such benefits.

Taxpayers’ money would be better spent on domestic infrastructure, she said, adding: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has become the ministry of severed ties.”

Wu said he could not accept that suggestion.

Ma should “show some sympathy” to ministry officials who have been fighting a “gory” diplomatic battle for their nation, Wu said.

Taiwan over the past two years has improved its relations with the US and the EU, he said.

The US has passed a number of Taiwan-friendly acts and allowed the nation’s representative to the US to work in the US Department of State for the first time, while Taiwan also held its first human rights consultations with the EU, he said.

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