Saint Lu­cia To Open Em­bassy in Tai­wan Soon

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Toni Ni­cholas

Last week, for­eign af­fairs Min­is­ter Alva Bap­tiste con­firmed that Saint Lu­cia was in­deed seek­ing to es­tab­lish an em­bassy in Tai­wan in the near fu­ture, fol­low­ing a re­port in the China Times.

Ac­cord­ing to the Times re­port the for­eign min­is­ter vis­ited Tai­wan in Fe­bru­ary to look for a lo­ca­tion to set up an em­bassy in or­der to strengthen bi­lat­eral ties.

The Times went on to say that An­to­nio Yeh, coun­selor in the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs’ Depart­ment of Latin Amer­i­can and Caribbean Af­fairs, talked about the visit by Alva Bap­tiste, St. Lu­cia’s min­is­ter of ex­ter­nal af­fairs, in­ter­na­tional trade and civil avi­a­tion, at a news con­fer­ence. Fur­ther, Yeh made the re­marks in re­sponse to ques­tions about the lat­est devel­op­ment in Saint Lu­cia’s plan to set up an em­bassy in Tai­wan, af­ter pres­i­dent Ma Ying-jeou talked about the is­sue when re­ceiv­ing Saint Lu­cia’s for­eign min­is­ter at the Pres­i­den­tial Of­fice two days ear­lier.

So far, St. Lu­cia only has em­bassies in Canada, the United King­dom and the United States, as well as in the Euro­pean Union, Yeh said, adding that Tai­wan will be the first coun­try in Asia in which Saint Lu­cia has an em­bassy.

Yeh was quoted as say­ing; “Saint Lu­cia made the de­ci­sion in re­cent months, as the coun­try is aim­ing to

at­tract for­eign in­vest­ment, pro­mote tourism and ad­vance trade ties with other coun­tries.”

Of Tai­wan’s 22 diplo­matic al­lies, Saint Lu­cia and Saint Vin­cent and the Gre­nadines are the only two coun­tries that have not set up em­bassies in Tai­wan. “St. Vin­cent and the Gre­nadines cur­rently have no plans to open an em­bassy here, Yeh said. “We hope that all of our diplo­matic al­lies will es­tab­lish em­bassies in Tai­wan,” he added.

The Repub­lic of China (Tai­wan) and St. Lu­cia have main­tained close co­op­er­a­tion in public health, ed­u­ca­tion, in­fra­struc­ture and cul­ture since the two coun­tries re­sumed diplo­matic re­la­tions in 2007 fol­low­ing a 10-year hia­tus. St. Lu­cia es­tab­lished diplo­matic ties with Tai­wan in 1984, but had switched its recog­ni­tion to the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China in 1997.

The Saint Lu­cia Labour Party was re-elected to of­fice in 2011 with Saint Lu­cia-Tai­wan re­la­tions hav­ing been es­tab­lished by the for­mer gov­ern­ment. Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony later an­nounced a task force headed by Dr. Vaughn Lewis to re­view the is­land’s for­eign af­fairs. In Au­gust of 2012 dur­ing an ad­dress to the na­tion the prime min­is­ter an­nounced that it would be main­tain­ing ties with Tai­wan.

The news came as a sur­prise to some in light of the fact that An­thony’s Labour ad­min­is­tra­tion had bro­ken off re­la­tions with Tai­wan in 1997 in favour of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China. While in op­po­si­tion, the SLP had also been very crit­i­cal in the run up to the 2011 elec­tions in the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Tai­wan and the UWP gov­ern­ment.

In his ad­dress to the na­tion ex­plain­ing the de­ci­sion, An­thony stated; “I re­peat­edly em­pha­sized that we would not vul­gar­ize our han­dling of diplo­matic is­sues with Tai­wan and would ap­proach the is­sue of our fu­ture re­la­tions in a civ­i­lized way. Saint Lu­cia can­not look as if it is just pre­pared to jump from one side to an­other, af­ter ev­ery gen­eral elec­tion, just for more largesse. We can­not be­have as if our sovereignty is for sale to the high­est bid­der.”

Fur­ther, “I have of­ten said in op­po­si­tion and re­peated since my party re­turned to of­fice, that this is a new era when we have to sum­mon our courage and our com­mon will to think and act dif­fer­ently.

This view must also ap­ply in the sphere of ex­ter­nal re­la­tions. Our for­eign pol­icy has to be con­ducted in ac­cor­dance with our grow­ing needs in a quickly chang­ing world. This is as much so for us, as it is for Tai­wan.”

Ma Ying-jeou, right, meets Alva Bap­tiste at the Pres­i­den­tial Of­fice, Feb. 10.

(Photo/CNA)

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