By Joseph Yeh, The China Post
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Like many people burning the candle at both ends, Deputy Foreign Minister Francois Wu (吳志中) has only one thing on his itinerary for the Lunar New Year holiday: to get some rest. Asked during a recent interview about his plans for the six-day break, Wu noted the extremely tight schedule he had kept since assuming his position on May 20 last year. “So my only plan and wish is to fully rest up and sleep for six days to make up for my lost sleep during the past months,” he said. A renowned expert in political science and geopolitics as well as French culture, Wu served as a visiting scholar at Harvard, visiting professor at IEP Lyon and professor at Soochow University before accepting the offer to become deputy foreign minister. Son of former Vice Premier Wu Rong-i (吳榮義), Wu is the first scholar to take up the post. Wu said he had decided to join the Foreign Ministry “to bring change that elevates Taiwan’s international space and status.” In doing so, Wu said, one of the biggest challenges has been determining how to reclaim the country’s international status. Wu recalled his efforts helping President Chen Shui-bian’s Democratic Progressive Party administration fight for a spot at the World Health Organization (WHO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, which does not recognize Taiwan as a country. The WHO for decades ignored the existence of Taiwan, Wu said, adding that it was only the SARS outbreak in 2003 that fostered the sympathetic outrage and alarmed self-interest necessary for the country to gain support for its meaningful participation in the WHO. Taiwan finally began attending the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the WHO, as an observer under the name “Chinese Taipei” in 2009, the year after President Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang (KMT) was inaugurated in 2008.
French National Order of Merit
As long as Taiwan has contact and interaction with partners around the globe, it can continue contributing to the international community, Wu said. On a more personal note, Wu said that the proudest moment of his life was when he was made a knight of the French National Order of Merit in 2014 for his work strengthening relations between France and Taiwan.