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FM `cautiously optimistic' of continued diplomatic truce with China

ROC Central News Agency

2009/05/06 19:36:17

By Rachel Chan

Taipei, May 6 (CNA) Foreign Minister Francisco H.L. Ou said Wednesday there is evidence that China is working with the "diplomatic truce" approach of President Ma Ying-jeou and he expressed "cautious optimism" that Beijing will continue to do so because it is in the national interests of both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

"Since both sides of the Taiwan Strait have the same goals and interests, China should happily go along with the proposal of a diplomatic truce," Ou said.

According to Ou, Beijing appears to be putting the diplomatic truce into practice, as it did not agree to forge diplomatic ties with Paraguay and El Salvador -- two of Taiwan's 23 diplomatic allies.

Ou made the remarks at a luncheon hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Global Views Monthly magazine in which he delivered a keynote speech on the results and prospects of the government's "modus vivendi" diplomatic strategy and its seeking of a "diplomatic truce" with China.

The frosty relations between Taiwan and China have been thawing since Ma took office May 20, with his proposal of a "diplomatic truce" aimed at ending the longstanding diplomatic tug-of-war with China in which both countries try to lure each other's allies to switch diplomatic allegiance in return for large amounts of money and aid.

Ma is also touting the strategy of "modus vivendi" or "flexible diplomacy" aimed at leveraging more international space for Taiwan.

In addition to the ending of the international diplomacy hostility with China, Ou went on, there is evidence that this pragmatic diplomatic strategy has achieved results in that some non-allied countries have resumed ministerial-level communications with Taiwan and that Taiwan has obtained more international space, such as receiving an invitation to participate in this year's World Health Assembly as an observer.

In addition, mutual trust between Taiwan and major countries such as the United States and Japan has been significantly restored, the foreign minister said, adding that the U.S. "highly appreciated" the low profile of Ma's transit stops in the U.S. last August during his first state visit to allies in Central and South America.

"Diplomatic relations should be the work of our ambassadors and representatives and cannot be done overnight through transit stops by high-ranking officials," Ou said.

There is no such a thing as "transit diplomacy, " "vacation diplomacy" or "mysterious voyage diplomacy, " Ou continued, referring to former President Chen Shui-bian's state visit of 2006, in which he was forced to make various detours on his way to an unannounced visit to Libya and a trip to Indonesia, a fiasco labeled by the media as the "journey to nowhere." Asked how diplomats of China and Taiwan should interact under the diplomatic truce approach, Ou said it will take time for them to adjust to the new method after 60 years of diplomatic hostility.

"We give no instructions to frontline diplomats regarding how to interact with their Chinese counterparts. It is up to them to interpret how the approach should be made," he said.


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