President-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday promised to give “priority consideration” to an invitation from Panama for her to attend the inauguration ceremony of the expanded Panama Canal on June 26.
Tsai made the remarks during a meeting with Panamian Ambassador Alfredo Martiz, who delivered the invitation from Panamanian President Juan Carlos Valera for the canal’s inauguration to Tsai in person.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) was also invited.
“Ambassador Martiz congratulated Tsai on her election win [on Jan. 16] and said that, since the years-long construction is important to Panama, it has invited all its diplomatic allies, as well as important users of the canal, to take part,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson Ruan Jhao-syong (阮昭雄) said after the meeting behind closed doors at party headquarters in Taipei.
“Tsai thanked the Panamanian president for his sincere invitation and though the inauguration ceremony is only one month after the presidential inauguration on May 20, she would give it priority consideration,” Ruan said.
At the meeting, Tsai and Martiz discussed potential cooperation between the two nations, including in the biotechnology, “renewable” energy, telecommunications and medical industries.
In response to media queries about Panama’s invitation for Xi to attend the ceremony — with some politicians and political commentators speculating that Panama might be expressing a desire to establish formal diplomatic ties with China through the invitation — Martiz said that diplomatic ties between Taipei and Panama City remain firm.
“The Panama Canal is open to the international world; this is the answer to this question, but Taiwan is our ally and we have a relationship with them,” Martiz said in English. “That’s why we are here to show the people in Taiwan the relationship between Taiwan and Panama is [a] very good one.”
“No need to be afraid. Feel happy. Panama and Taiwan, they are good friends,” he added.
Although Tsai has not said whether she would attend the event, most DPP legislators said they would support a decision to go.
“If the first occasion for the leaders from both sides [of the Taiwan Strait] to meet is to be in Panama — in an international setting — it would not be a bad thing,” DPP Legislator Chuang Jui-hsiung (莊瑞雄) said. “However, Tsai should be clear that the meeting would not be ‘accidental,’ if it happens.”
Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) said it was not certain that Tsai and Xi would meet, even if they both attended the event.
“China has always tried to avoid meetings between leaders from both sides at international events, so I think the possibility of Tsai meeting with Xi in Panama is not too high,” Lo said.
However, Lo said Tsai should accept the invitation regardless of the possibility of a meeting with the Chinese leader, as it would be an important event that leaders from many countries would attend and it would be beneficial for Tsai to interact with them.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators also voiced support for Tsai’s potential trip to Panama.
KMT caucus whip Lin Te-fu (林德福) said Taiwan is facing great challenges in diplomacy, so if there is a chance for the future president to engage in international interactions that are helpful to the nation, the KMT would not oppose the trip.
KMT Legislator John Wu (吳志揚) said Tsai “has to go,” regardless of China’s attitude.
Meanwhile, China reacted frostily yesterday.
Asked whether Xi would attend the ceremony and if he might meet Tsai, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hong Lei (洪磊) did not answer directly.
“What I want to point out is that China has always had the ‘one China’ principle as a fundamental precondition for handling and developing relations with countries around the world,” Hong told a daily news briefing, without elaborating.
Additional reporting by Alison Hsiao and Reuters
WHEELING AND DEALING? Hou You-yi, Ko Wen-je, Eric Chu and Ma Ying-jeou are under investigation for allegedly offering bribes for the other side to drop out of the race Taipei prosecutors have started an investigation into allegations that four top politicians involved in attempts to form a “blue-white” presidential ticket have contravened election regulations. Listed as defendants are Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲). The case stemmed from judicial complaints filed last month with the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office alleging that the KMT (blue) and the TPP (white) had engaged in bribery by offering money or other enticements
PEACE AND STABILITY: ‘Taiwan can be of tremendous value’ in building resilient supply chains, President Tsai Ing-wen said, as she encouraged closer ties with foreign businesses A Chinese invasion of Taiwan is unlikely for the time being due to the internal challenges and international pressure that China is facing, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told the New York Times in an interview shown on Wednesday. “My thought is that perhaps this is not a time for them [China] to consider a major invasion of Taiwan,” Tsai said in a prerecorded interview for the DealBook Summit held by the newspaper on Wednesday. Beijing’s leadership is presently “overwhelmed by its internal challenges” on economic, financial and political grounds, while the international community “has made it loud and clear that war is
EXPOSED: Some Taipei wardens reported joining the trips out of peer pressure, while others said they were relieved it was made public so they could refuse, a city councilor said Nearly 30 percent of Taipei borough wardens have joined group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government, leading prosecutors probing potential Chinese interference in January’s elections to question local officials, an investigation showed. Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City councilors Chien Shu-pei (簡舒培) and Chen E-jun (陳怡君) have reported cases of Taipei borough wardens inviting residents to join inexpensive privately organized group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government. The six-day trips reportedly cost NT$10,000 to NT$15,000, the councilors said. An investigation by the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) showed that nearly 30 percent
COUNTER DISINFORMATION: More engagement and media literacy are needed to push back against misinformation and claims that the US is an unreliable partner, the AIT director said The US is “confident” that Taiwan does not face an imminent threat of a Chinese invasion, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Sandra Oudkirk told a US public radio show, adding that Washington remains committed to defensively arming the nation. She made the comment during an interview on All Things Considered, broadcast on Friday on US-based National Public Radio. “There is an important distinction between making plans and training troops, and getting ready to do something,” Oudkirk said, on whether she thinks Beijing plans to attack Taiwan in the near future. Chinese officials have told Washington that “their preference is for peaceful reunification,