Taiwan or China?

Following the swearing-in-ceremony for his Cabinet last year Dr Kenny Anthony shook hands with soon-to-be-recalled Taiwan Ambassador Tom Chou.

By the time you pick up your STAR this morning the country would hopefully already know where the government stands on diplomatic relations with China and Taiwan. Since the November 2011 elections the St Lucia Labour Party government has not made a definitive statement on our relationship between Taiwan and China. As we go to press Tuesday evening Prime Minister Kenny Anthony is set to address the nation on, according to a statement from his press secretary, “the future of diplomatic ties between the Republic of China on Taiwan and Saint Lucia.” Regardless of what the prime minister says there will be those who support him and those who will be even more convinced that this is a personal vendetta. During his stint as Leader of the Opposition Dr Anthony and the St Lucia Labour Party had repeatedly questioned the role of former Taiwanese ambassador Tom Chou, accusing him of displaying behaviour “below acceptable diplomatic standards,” and of “blatant interference” in St Lucia’s politics. In at least one letter sent to Ma Ying-jeou, president of Taiwan in his capacity as chairman of the KMT party, in Taipei, Dr Anthony commented on what he called Chou’s “despicable method of operation in St Lucia.” Taipei, however, had stood behind Chou. While many sided with Dr Anthony on the question of Taiwanese assistance and the Consolidated Fund controversy it seemed that Dr Anthony had had his way—former ambassador Tom Chou was “recalled” months after the Labour Party took office. The STAR learnt last week that Chou has since been appointed to the position of Director General of the Coordination Council For North American Affairs in Taipei. But back to St Lucia. In July, James Chung was appointed St Lucia’s new Taiwanese ambassador. Chung has stated that his country is eager and willing to help St Lucia achieve its national ambitions. If Dr Anthony should choose to re-embrace Taiwan the message would be that our two countries have settled whatever differences may have existed before Tom Chou’s departure. It would seem most undiplomatic, however, should it turn out that the government, having chased Tom Chou and by its actions accepted the new ambassador, to turn around and boot him out. As far as we can tell there have been no complaints about the new ambassador. It will be interesting to hear the reasons if finally he is sent packing. The question will be asked: why didn’t the government upon taking office discontinue its relationship with Taiwan? Why welcome a replacement only to kick him out a few months later? If the Dr Kenny Anthony Administration decides to develop relations with China that decision also will be debated by the public and present some questions as to the benefits to our country. Or maybe Dr Anthony, like the former government, will leave the decision making in that regard to China and Taiwan, by making a decision to maintain relations with both countries. But, we all know where China stands in that regard.

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