FM defends losing diplomat allies, says unofficial relations equally important

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (???) on Thursday said deepening unofficial ties with like-minded countries was just as important as maintaining diplomatic relations, amid calls for his resignation after the loss of a record number of formal allies.

During a Legislative hearing, several Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers urged Wu to take political responsibility and step down, with one lawmaker, KMT Legislator Chen I-hsin (???), even suggesting Wu kill himself for presiding over the loss of six diplomatic allies since taking office in February 2018.

In response, an angry Wu blamed increasing pressure from Beijing for snatching away Taipei's diplomatic allies, including most recently with Nicaragua, which ended official ties with Taiwan Dec. 10.

He also insisted that the nation's diplomacy should place equal importance on closer relations with like-minded countries around the world instead of focusing on maintaining official ties with its allies only, particularly given Taiwan's unique strategic location.

The foreign minister also said Taiwan's relations with world powers such as Japan, the United States, and the European Unions had made significant strides over the years, lauding them as accomplishments that should be recognized by the public.

Asked if he would resign if Taiwan lost another ally, Wu did not give a direct answer, saying only that "I will do my best [to make sure it won't happen]."

Meanwhile, answering questions raised by another KMT lawmaker Johnny Chiang (???), Wu reiterated that the severance of ties with Nicaragua had more to do with the intensifying rivalry between the United States and China and less with the direct relations between Taiwan and Nicaragua.

According to Wu, after a recent contentious election that saw Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega win a fourth consecutive term in office, Taiwan had privately and publicly urged Ortega to listen to the voice of the people but to no avail.

In response to Ortega's re-election, Washington had announced a series of sanctions on Nicaragua, Wu said, and that was probably why Ortega had decided to ally himself with China and Russia and end ties with Taiwan.

The timing for announcing the diplomatic switch was also carefully chosen as it was the first day of the U.S.-held Summit for Democracy in which Taiwan, instead of China, had been invited to attend, Wu said.

The termination of diplomatic relations between the Republic of China, which is Taiwan's official name, and Nicaragua leaves Taiwan with 14 diplomatic allies worldwide.

Since President Tsai Ing-wen (???) took office in 2016, Taiwan has lost eight diplomatic allies, namely Burkina Faso, Panama, Sao Tome and Principe, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, the Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Nicaragua.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel