WAR IN IRAQ GRAVELY AFFECTS TAIWAN-FRANCE TIES: OUTGOING ENVOY
ROC Central News Agency
Paris, Aug. 27 (CNA) The war in Iraq has had a grave direct impact on relations between Taiwan and France, the outgoing Republic of China representative to France said Saturday.
Chiou Jong-nan, a career diplomat who will step down from his current post as the top Taiwan representative to France in the absence of formal diplomatic ties at the end of this month, told the CNA that as French President Jacques Chirac differed with the United States on the war in Iraq, he had to seek the support of other big powers in the world.
Back in 2003, Chiou said, China was a ready choice, as its new president, Hu Jintao, was eager to expand China's external relations. In order to cajole China, Chiou said, Chirac did not hesitate to make unfriendly comments on Taiwan, hurting Taiwan-France relations.
Chiou took over his current post in November 2002. It marked the second time that he has served as the de facto ROC ambassador to France. Ten months after he assumed office, he originally arranged for the French foreign trade minister to visit Taiwan. As Chinese President Hu was scheduled to visit France in January 2004 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of China-France diplomatic ties, France later canceled its minister's Taiwan travel plan.
Afterwards, Chirac's criticizing Taiwan's decision to hold a referendum simultaneously with its 2004 presidential election during his face-to-face talks with Hu drew backlash in Taiwan.
Because of the changing international political situations, Chiou said relations between Taiwan and France have been in a low ebb in the past two years. "I feel sorry and uneasy for this trend, " he said.
In his 40.5-year diplomatic career, his tenure as the top ROC envoy to France totaled nine years.
He said diplomatic work with countries that do not maintain formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan relies heavily on person-to-person relations that require long-term cultivation.
According to Chiou, Chirac's blunt opposition to democratic Taiwan's referendum program has also drawn harsh criticism in France. "I hope both Taiwan and France can forget this unpleasant episode as soon as possible," he added.
Chiou further said the new director of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs's Asia-Pacific department once told him that Taiwan and France should enhance mutual understanding.
Noting that China has continued its "strongarm" diplomatic offensive against Taiwan, Chiou said Taiwan should not let down its alert and efforts in forging extensive foreign relations. "China's diplomatic work is now run by a new generation of well-trained professional diplomats. We should devote even more resources and manpower in diplomatic work," he suggested.
Chiou's successor, Yang Tzu-pao, is scheduled to arrive in Paris Sept. 5 to assume his new post. Yang has a doctoral degree from a French engineering university.
Chiou's first term as the top envoy to France, running from November 1990 through January 1997, marked a height in Taiwan-France relations. After the 1989 Tiananmen massacre in Beijing, the then-French leftist government known for its emphasis on human rights actively expanded relations with Taiwan. During the period, France won contracts to build Taipei's Mucha mass rapid transit line, signed an aviation rights pact with Taiwan for direct air links and sold Lafayette-class frigates and Mirage jet fighters to Taiwan.
(By Y.S. Luo and Sofia Wu)
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