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Pressure from Beijing won't affect Taiwan overseas offices decision

Publication Date : 03-07-2012


Pressure from mainland China will not affect Taiwan's decision on whether to set up new representative offices overseas, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.

"A number of factors have to be carefully examined before we make the call on whether to establish a representative office in a foreign country,” Steve Hsia, MOFA's deputy spokesman told The China Post yesterday.

But Beijing's possible objection to Taipei's new overseas offices is definitely not one of the factors that will influence the foreign ministry's final decision, Hsia added.

The MOFA spokesman made the comments in response to a Chinese-language newspaper report yesterday that quoted diplomatic sources as saying that the “diplomatic truce” between two sides of the Strait has prevented Taiwan from opening offices overseas in the fear that such move may step on the red line of Beijing.

Taking the example of East Africa where Taiwan has established no representative offices so far, diplomatic sources told the Apple Daily that Taiwanese officials were hesitant to do so because such a move could break cross-strait mutual trust. Beijing could consider a new Taipei office as symbolising Taiwan's intention to form official ties with other countries.

Asked to comment, Hsia said yesterday that the MOFA has to consider the overall need of Taiwanese nationals and the financial ability of the government before setting up a new representative office.

The ministry has to mull over whether a new overseas office in any country has will foster enough bilateral exchanges and whether a nation has enough Taiwanese travelers, he added.

Refuting accusations that MOFA is afraid of opening new offices as a result of Chinese pressure, the spokesman said Taiwan has opened new offices in Sapporo, Japan, in Frankfurt, Germany and Chennai, India during the past two years, to strengthen bilateral economic ties and to offer service to Taiwanese tourists.

"We will insist on opening a new office if it is beneficial to our country even if China expresses objections,” Hsia said.

But at the same time, the MOFA also closed down its representative office in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2009 and several other overseas offices after a review of the functions and performance of these foreign representative offices.

Decisions are made in this regard as part of an effort to maximise the use of Taiwan's diplomatic resources with a limited budget, he added.


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