TAIPEI–Premier Wu Den-yih said Sunday that the recent detention of a Taiwanese diplomat in the U.S. city of Kansas City is irrelevant to Washington’s policy on Taiwan.
Wu also emphasized that the government will continue to safeguard Taiwan’s sovereignty and dignity in dealing with the case.
On Nov. 11, Jacqueline Liu, director of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office In Kansas City, was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and charged with foreign labor abuse.
Liu was remanded in custody pending a federal detention hearing scheduled for Nov. 16 in Kansas City.
Jason Yuan, Taiwan’s representative to the United States, who is currently in Honolulu, Hawaii attending an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum meeting, said he has ordered the Kansas City office to hire an attorney on behalf of Liu.
Yuan added that he does not think Washington-Taipei ties will be affected by Liu’s case.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Sunday that the Kansas City office is working normally, despite Liu’s absence.
Following Liu’s arrest, the MOFA has lodged a serious protest over her detention and has demanded her immediate release.
The ministry said that Liu should enjoy diplomatic immunity under an agreement on privileges, exemptions and immunities signed between Taiwan and the United States in 1980, which states that Taiwanese diplomatic personnel are immune from lawsuits and legal process relating to acts performed by them within the scope of their authorized functions.
The immunity, however, does not apply to a diplomat’s personal affairs, Wu added.
The premier also urged Liu to be honest so that the ministry can get a full understanding of the situation.
According to a report in the Kansas City Star, Liu has been charged with violating federal law because she forced her Filipina housekeeper to work long hours and paid her far less than the amount promised in her employment contract.
The report, citing federal prosecutors, said the defendant is believed to be Taiwan’s first foreign representative to face such charges in the U.S.