New plan for former U.S. envoy Chen as new EU representative

Jane Rickards, TAIPEI, Taiwan, The China Post

Minister of Foreign Affairs Chen Tan Sun yesterday unexpectedly announced the ministry was making new plans for Taiwan’s former top liaison in Washington Chen Chien-jen to be the island’s European Union representative.

The news contradicts widely-held expectations that former foreign minister Eugene Chien, would take up the post.

Chien, who had not yet formally taken on the position, said he had no knowledge of these new plans, according to a report from the semi-official Central News Agency.

Speaking very quickly, the foreign minister first announced that the ministry had new plans for a European Union representative only minutes before a press conference on Taiwan’s United Nation’s bid was set to conclude, suggesting he did not want to take questions. He announced later in the evening that Chen Chien-jen, who is also a former foreign minister, would take up the post.

The announcement came days after the Control Yuan said it would impeach two ministry employees stationed in the UK for their role in issuing passports and certificates to the wife of one of Taiwan’s most wanted fugitives.

The fugitive, Andrew Wang, is suspected of organizing enormous kickbacks for French and Taiwan officials involved in a purchase of French Lafayette frigates in the early 1990s. He is also suspected of being connected to the murder of a Taiwan naval captain in 1993.

The watchdog organization claimed shoddy paperwork from the two officials in Taiwan’s Britain office authorized Wang’s wife to sell land the couple owned in Taiwan.

The Control Yuan on Tuesday declined to say if it would impeach Chien, who was foreign minister at the time the London mishap took place. Minister Chen would not comment if Chien’s recall was connected to the Wang case, although he said the negative publicity surrounding the case had a profound impact on society.

He said foreign ministry personnel arrangements needed to be revamped out of foreign policy considerations as Taiwan needed to respond to rapid developments in the European Union, the public held high hopes for the ministry and diplomacy needed to move in a new direction.