In response to news that Sao Tomean President Manuel Pinto da Costa is about to head a business delegation to China, legislators across party lines yesterday again blamed the decline of the nation’s foreign policy on the President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration’s policy of political detente with China.
The government of Sao Tome had informed the Taiwanese government of Pinto da Costa’s imminent visit to China’s Shanghai City in a bid to attract more Chinese investors, but said the visit was business only and the delegation had no intention of conducting behind-the-scenes talks with China.
However, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said that Pinto da Costa’s visit to China showed that Taiwan’s diplomacy was extant only in name, as its diplomatic allies have either switched sides to recognize China, or have been showing hesitance in affirming their ties with Taiwan over the years.
The ambassador from the Republic of Honduras has been vacant for one entire year and his affairs are being overseen by a charge d’affaires, Tsai said, adding that when Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) attended the inaugural ceremony for Salvadorean President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, the country only sent a deputy minister from a department not affiliated with diplomatic affairs to greet Jiang.
“Such signs of disregarding Taiwanese diplomatic sovereignty clearly point to the general dissolution of Taiwan’s diplomacy,” Tsai said.
Tsai blamed the Ma administration’s policy of diplomatic detente and said the policy bred distrust in Taiwan’s allies and encouraged them to openly seek more formalized diplomatic and economic relations with China.
That the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can still claim Taiwan’s diplomatic relations are secure is unbelievable, Tsai said.
DPP Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) also said the situation was worse than she thought while discrediting the ministry’s claims that the break with the Gambia came without warning.
The Gambia announced its severance of diplomatic relations with Taiwan in December last year.
Hsiao said diplomatic relations with Sao Tome were in peril, pointing to Pinto da Costa’s visit to Cuba causing the cancelation of Ma’s trip to the nation during a state visit in 2012, and the 20 minutes where Ma’s plane had to circle when waiting for Pinto da Costa to arrive in January this year as evidence.
The diplomatic detente is a complete lie, Hsiao said, adding that China had never given up its efforts to cajole Taiwan’s diplomatic allies into switching their recognition to China and oppressing Taiwan’s international diplomatic ventures at every corner.
The Ma administration should not keep deluding itself, Hsiao said.
Meanwhile, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) also said Pinto da Costa’s visit to China bode ill for Taiwan’s foreign diplomacy.
We cannot interfere in our allies’ efforts to develop economic relations with others, but we cannot stand by when such actions sacrifice Taiwanese diplomatic interests, Chinag said, adding that the ministry must protest the move.
The improved relations between Taiwan and China should not be mistaken by the international community as a regression of Taiwan’s sovereign status in diplomacy, Chiang said.
However, KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said that the consensus across the Taiwan Strait was to maintain the “status quo,” adding that the Gambia had not formed official diplomatic ties with China after breaking ties with Taiwan.
“Taiwan’s current economic strength cannot satisfy the needs of our diplomatic allies, and we also lack the strength to stop them from seeking alternative economic developments,” Lin said.
“We were told ahead of time by the Sao Tomean government that their visit was strictly commercial,” Lin said, adding that he did not have the heart to criticize the ministry officials who have already worked so hard to maintain ties with diplomatic allies.
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