Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) in 1994 agreed to donate US$10 million to South Africa's heavily indebted African National Congress (ANC) to sustain Taipei-Pretoria ties, a retired veteran diplomat admitted for the first time yesterday.
"Beijing had paid US$10 million then and we simply matched it," former ambassador to South Africa Loh I-cheng (
Loh's remark came in the wake of the disclosure of confidential National Security Bureau (NSB) documents in the local press yesterday.
Loh said that after learning the ANC under Nelson Mandela was loaded with debt of US$20 million after the first all-race elections in 1994 that brought Mandela to power, he reported the situation to Lee during his visit to Pretoria for Mandela's presidential inauguration ceremony.
"The president said he was very impressed by Mandela and asked me if there's anything we could do to help the ANC. So I suggested that if we could help with half of the debt, Mandela would be most grateful," Loh recalled.
Loh also stressed the amount offered to the ANC then was US$10 million, adding that he had no idea why the leaked NSB document said the figure was US$11 million.
According to a China Times report, Lee, after his return from Pretoria, requested that the foreign ministry offer the donation to the ANC, but the ministry said it would have difficulty coming up with such a large donation.
Lee then asked the NSB to retrieve US$ 11 million from an alleged secret fund to advance the donation, and the foreign ministry several years later agreed to reimburse US$10.7 million to the NSB, the report said.
Control Yuan President Fred-erick Chien (錢復), who served as the foreign minister in 1994, yesterday said he was unaware of the alleged donation.
When contacted by the Taipei Times, Yang Ching-chih (楊清吉), a former foreign ministry accountant who reportedly handled the reimbursement of the donation to the NSB, said "the matter had nothing to do with me."
In fact, Taiwan's US$10 million donation to the ANC was not news in South Africa as a South African journalist, Gaye Davis, reported the deal in a Dec. 8, 1995 article in the Weekly Mail & Guardian.
"President Nelson Mandela has cited a US$10 million donation from the Republic of China on Taiwan for the African National Congress' general election campaign as one reason South Africa would not break ties with the island republic in favor of diplomatic relations with mainland China," Davis wrote in her story.
Mandela then said the money was given as "a donation and not a bribe" and that the ANC would not repay a friend's favor by "stabbing them in the back," the report said.
The 1995 report also said that then-ambassador Loh had insisted no donation had been made.
Mandela announced at the end of 1997 that South Africa would sever ties with Taipei to establish links with Beijing, just months after saying such a step would be "immoral" as Taiwan had been a good friend to his ruling ANC.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday said that a surge in respiratory illnesses in China has been caused by at least seven types of pathogens, and small children, elderly people and immunocompromised people should temporarily avoid unnecessary visits to China. The recent outbreak of respiratory illnesses in China is mainly in the north and among children, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said on Monday. Data released by the Chinese National Health Commission on Sunday showed that among children aged one to four, the main pathogens were influenza viruses and rhinoviruses, while among children aged five to 14, the main pathogens
A new poll of Taiwanese voters found the top opposition candidate for president jumping past the ruling party’s hopeful into the lead position ahead of January’s election — the latest twist in a drama-filled race. Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) had an approval rating of 31.9 percent versus 29.2 percent for the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential candidate Vice President William Lai (賴清德), the poll released yesterday by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation showed. The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), ranked third with 23.6 percent, according to the survey conducted
A New Taipei City hotpot restaurant could be fined after a rat dropped from the ceiling and landed on a customer’s plate last week, the New Taipei City Department of Health said yesterday after conducting an inspection. A woman recently posted on the “I am a Banciao resident” (我是板橋人) social media group saying that she had been eating with a friend at Chien Tu Shabu Shabu Hotpot Restaurant’s Shuangshi B branch in Banciao District (板橋). “While still eating, a big rat suddenly dropped down from the ceiling, landing on a plate next to a hotpot,” she said. “Later on, a member of
Actress Hu Ling (胡伶) on Saturday became the first Chinese movie star to walk the red carpet of the Golden Horse Awards since 2019, when China boycotted Taiwan’s biggest awards show over political tensions. Beijing banned its entertainers from joining the awards, dubbed the Chinese-language Oscars, after documentary director Fu Yu (傅榆) voiced support for Taiwan’s formal independence in an acceptance speech in 2018. There were no films from China in the 2019 nomination list and several Hong Kong movies dropped out that year, while several big commercial productions were conspicuously absent at both the 2020 and 2021 awards. However, Hu, nominated for