St. Lucia opens its first embassy in Asia in the ROC
Making the R. O. C. the first country in Asia in which St. Lucia has established an embassy, the Caribbean country yesterday opened its embassy in Taiwan in a concrete move to show strong bilateral ties.
Speaking during an inaugural ceremony for the embassy in Taipei yesterday, St. Lucia Foreign Minister Alva Baptiste said the launch of the embassy is meant to further strengthen bilateral ties.
“We could not have a diplomatic relationship without having a physical presence in Taiwan,” he said.
Opening an embassy will allow the two countries to have even closer exchanges and allow St. Lucia to better learn from Taiwan’s successful experiences in economic growth, he said.
Visiting St. Lucia Prime Minister Kenny Anthony yesterday also joined the event to show that his government has deeply valued the two- way ties.
Also present were Taiwan Foreign Minister David Lin (
) and Taiwan Ambassador to St. Lucia James Chang ( ), among other local and foreign diplomats.
“The opening of the embassy marks a new milestone in cordial relations of two countries and a major step forward to cementing bilateral ties,” Lin said in his remarks.
It will also benefit St. Lucian students in Taiwan, he said. There are currently 80 St. Lucian students studying in the country.
St. Lucia first established diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1984, but switched recognition to China in 1997. In 2007, after 10 years of relations with Beijing, the then- ruling United Workers Party government renewed ties with Taipei after it coming into office.
Anthony, whose St. Lucia Labor Party had diplomatic rela- tions with Beijing in the past, previously pledged to review diplomatic relations with Taiwan after he was elected prime minister in November 2011.
He announced in September 2012 that his government would continue to maintain relations with the R. O. C.
His Labor Party, however, maintains close relations with the Chinese Communist Party ( CCP). Baptiste previously visited China under the capacity of second deputy leader of the party in response to an invitation sent by the CCP in 2012.
Asked to comment on the visit, Baptiste yesterday said that the Labor Party does have a “historical relationship” with the CCP. “Political parties do have their own associations. But we in the government must have to do what is the best interest for the country,” he noted.
There is no ambiguity that St. Lucia has strong ties with the R. O. C., and the Caribbean coun- try pledges to further bilateral relations as exemplified by the opening of the embassy, he said.
Saying that the inaugural ceremony of the embassy is like a wedding ceremony between St. Lucia and Taiwan, Baptiste reiterated stable mutual ties by stressing that “there would be no divorce.”
St. Lucia Prime Minister Kenny Anthony, left, and Taiwan Foreign Minister David Lin ( ), right, together unveiled the plaque of the St. Lucia Embassy in Taiwan yesterday in Taipei.