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.”