President emphasizes non-monetary diplomacy

The China Post staff

Taiwan should endeavor to assist developing countries by means of sharing experience, training talents and transferring technology, instead of practicing “dollar diplomacy,” President Chen Shui-bian said yesterday.

Chen made the remark during a speech to the Chinese International Economic Cooperation Association (CIECA), an organization founded by Jeffrey Koo, chairman and CEO of Chinatrust Commercial Bank, with the goal to promote Taiwan’s business ties with foreign countries.

Acknowledging the CIECA’s achievement in the international economic cooperation, Chen noted that Taiwan should contribute to the international society and give its helping hands to developing nations via experience sharing, personnel training and technology transferring. Such efforts will be more welcomed and acknowledged by those countries than the “money diplomacy,” Chen added. Saying that the CIECA has facilitated economic cooperation with 53 countries around the world to promote Taiwan’s economy and international exchanges, Chen called on the organization to work closely with the government to strengthen Taiwan’s relations with other countries. The president’s criticism of “money diplomacy” came after Taiwan severed ties with tiny Pacific island nation Nauru on Tuesday. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Nauru government switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing after being promised a subsidy worth over US$130 million. Beijing’s diplomatic move was criticized in Taiwan as “dollar diplomacy,” intending to buy off the bankrupt Nauru. However, an unidentified ranking MOFA official was quoted in yesterday’s China Times Express as saying “there is no way to promote diplomacy without money.” The official noted that many African and central American countries think they deserve aid from foreign countries and Taiwan will not be able to establish relations with these countries without financial assistance. The report noted that in addition to the amount of financial aid, MOFA is also concerned about who and how to offer the money to. MOFA officials were quoted as saying that the ministry usually gets nervous during election times in countries with diplomatic ties with Taiwan because Beijing tends to court opposition parties in those countries at that time.

In addition, sometimes the financial assistance has been misused by local governments, evidenced by one country’s use of MOFA’s aid for wind disaster victims to purchase a presidential jet, according to the report. Also yesterday, opposition Kuomintang Chairman Lien Chien pointed a finger at Chen, saying that a president should remain poised and persistent in the event of a diplomatic setback.

Lien was referring to Chen’s statement on Sunday that Taiwan might have to “walk down (its) own road” should Beijing fail to respond to the island’s good will. Chen’s remark came after Nauru president Rene Harris signed a communique in Hong Kong to recognize Beijing instead of Taipei. Chen’s controversial remark was seen by some as a strong and direct response to the diplomatic failure. Lien stressed that an emotional outburst or venting of anger is no way for a national leader to solve problems.