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Taiwan's 'checkbook diplomacy' ended long ago: president

ROC Central News Agency

2016/06/30 14:41:48

Asuncion, Paraguay, June 29 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Wednesday that the "checkbook diplomacy" Taiwan was once criticized for has long been a thing of the past.

"Checkbook diplomacy, in its conventional definition, ended a long time ago, and no longer exists," Tsai said when asked by reporters if she would make her stance clear to avoid being criticized.

Taiwan has become a very different country, and many things need to meet regulatory requirements and be examined by the Legislature, so it should no longer be an issue, the president said.

There might have been some diplomatic practices that faced criticism in the past, when the country was in a difficult situation, she told reporters traveling with her on her first overseas trip since taking office May 20.

Citing Paraguay as an example, Tsai said she announced only two things during her current visit -- one being the doubling to 28 of the number of students to be awarded under Taiwan's scholarship program to study in Taiwan, the other being further raising import quotas for beef from the South American country.

"If I did not tell you about any other issues, that means there is nothing to tell," she said.

The president also commented on responses to events during her visit to Panama, where she attended the opening of the expanded canal, before traveling on to Paraguay.

She said Panama had already informed her that the first ship to sail through the expanded canal is owned by Beijing-based China Ocean Shipping Co., and added that the Central American ally handled the matter in an honest and mature manner.

"(Panama) invited me and also invited the leader of mainland China. They (Panama) expressed their concern about relations across the Taiwan Strait, and expressed hope that they can do something to help maintain peace and stability between the two sides," she pointed out.

She also said there is no need for a political interpretation of her signing "President of Taiwan (ROC)" in a visitor's book when touring the expanded Panama Canal June 26.

The choice of signature was blasted by opposition Kuomintang Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and several other politicians from his party, who said ROC (Republic of China) should have come first, followed by Taiwan in the parentheses.

"I was elected by the 23 million people of this country, so it is not inappropriate to call myself president of Taiwan," Tsai said, adding that on formal occasions, it is clear that the ROC will be listed before Taiwan.

Earlier that day, Tsai witnessed a donation by the Asus Foundation of 400 laptop and tablet computers to public primary schools in Paraguay, before attending a banquet hosted by Asociacion Rural del Paraguay, where she was joined by the South American country's vice president, Juan Eudes Afara Maciel.

She also visited a feed factory, and attended the opening ceremony of an orchid sales center, both of which are part of a cooperation program between Taiwan and Paraguay.

The president is scheduled to wrap up her visit Thursday and fly to Los Angeles for a transit stop en route back to Taiwan.

(By Sophia Yeh and Kay Liu)

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