Groups of lawmakers are planning trips overseas over the summer recess, sources said on Wednesday, with one cross-party delegation having visited Denmark on Thursday and Friday last week to attend the Copenhagen Democracy Summit.
At least seven other groups of lawmakers are arranging trips to the US and Europe during the recess, sources said.
The Legislative Yuan allocates NT$22.6 million (US$760,047) of the annual budget to foreign exchanges and international networking. Each lawmaker can apply to make two foreign trips per calendar year at an annual cost of up to NT$200,000.
Photo: Ann Wang, Reuters
Most legislators who began their term in 2020 have not had the opportunity to travel internationally due to border controls and disease prevention measures to curb COVID-19.
As border controls and travel restrictions have eased in many countries, staff members in many legislators’ offices are reportedly arranging overseas trips to pursue foreign initiatives.
Members of the Taiwan Parliamentary Group for Tibet, led by independent Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Hung Sun-han (洪申翰), are to attend the eighth annual World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet in Washington on Monday and Tuesday next week.
Members of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee are to travel to the US later this month. The delegation will reportedly meet with US lawmakers, leading academics and overseas Taiwanese organizations in major cities, as well as attending a Taiwanese Chambers of Commerce of North America conference.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Charles Chen (陳以信) is on a visit to the US and Canada, and plans to visit Europe on the return leg of his trip.
A delegation of the Taiwan-Poland Inter-Parliamentary Amity Association, led by DPP Legislator Lin Ching-yi (林靜儀), who chairs the group, is to visit Poland and neighboring countries at the end of the month to meet with Polish parliamentarians and civic groups.
The members hope to see how Taiwan’s donations and material assistance are providing relief for Ukrainian war refugees, Lin said.
They also hope that Taiwanese living in Poland and other eastern European countries will recommend how Taiwan can improve ties and networking in the region, she added.
DPP Legislator Hsu Chih-chieh (許智傑), who heads the Taiwan-Slovakia Inter-Parliamentary Amity Association, said he is arranging a visit to Slovakia, which has a delegation of parliamentarians currently visiting Taiwan.
Although the participants and dates have yet to be finalized, the trip is likely to involve a cross-party delegation of lawmakers to save on airfares, he said.
DPP Legislator Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉), chairman of the Taiwan-Baltic States Parliamentary Amity Association, said he is planning a trip to Lithuania next month, with the details still to be finalized.
“Twenty years ago, I taught courses at Lithuania’s Vilnius University. Some of my colleagues from then are still teaching there, and many of my students are now parents with kids of their own. So this trip will bring back lots of memories, catching up with old friends and reminiscing about Lithuania’s past,” Chiu said.
Sources also said that Legislative Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃) is likely to arrange a visit to the Czech Republic in the middle of next month, after a delegation led by Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil visited Taiwan in 2020.
Staff in the speaker’s office said that the trip’s itinerary has yet to be announced because they have not had the chance to confirm the details, as European countries are entering the summer holiday period.
The details are also being kept secret so that China’s foreign affairs officials do not interfere and pressure Czech officials, they said.
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