US responds ‘positively’ as Taiwan protests arrest of representative

The China Post news staff

The U.S. State Department has responded “positively” to Taiwan’s protests over the arrest of its representative to Kansas City and is said to be working with the Taiwanese government for a solution to the matter, a senior Taiwanese diplomat accredited to the United States said yesterday.

Jason C. Yuan (袁健生), Taiwan’s chief representative to the United States as the head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington, D. C., said in Honolulu, Hawaii, yesterday he had insisted to the U.S. State Department that Taiwan representatives to the United States are accorded diplomatic immunity.

However, Jacqueline Liu (劉珊珊), director-general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Kansas City, Missouri, cannot be immediately released after her arrest by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation over allegations that she had ill-treated her Filipina housekeeper because the United States was in the middle of a Veteran’s Day long weekend.

Liu remained in police custody yesterday after her first court appearance the day before.

Concrete results cannot be expected until Monday, Nov. 14, and negotiations with the U.S. State Department are still in progress, Yuan, who was in Honolulu for an APEC forum meeting, was quoted as saying.

The U.S. State Department has agreed to help Taiwan negotiate with the U.S. Department of Justice, because Liu’s case comes within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Justice, Yuan said. Both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington, D. C. protested to the U.S. State Department following Liu’s arrest, insisting that Taiwan representatives enjoy diplomatic immunity, and have received a positive response, Yuan said. “Taiwan’s stance is clear in insisting on diplomatic immunity for Liu,” he added.

Meanwhile, a U.S. State Department spokesman claimed the kind of immunity Liu is accorded covers only the performance of approved functions. Liu’s status is the same as a consular official, but she is only immune from legal suits and processes related to acts performed within the scope of her authorized functions, the State Department spokesman said in Washington, D.C., citing an October, 1980 agreement between the two sides on privileges, exemptions and immunities.

The spokesman also said all questions regarding the relevant legal procedures and subsequent developments should be directed to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Missouri.

Taiwan officials in the United States, however, are insisting privately that Liu is immune and her case should be handled through diplomatic channels.