Sunday, September 16, 2012

St Lucia and Taiwan

Cyclists on the Houfeng Bike Path

Another day spent hiking, biking, writing, and listening to Romantic composers of the second tier like Richard Wetz, who is really quite enjoyable (Symphony #2 is also 讚). Meanwhile in the Caribbean St Lucia is making ripples as it contemplates its ties with Beijing and Taipei. The Independent Online says:
The tiny island of St. Lucia has announced it will maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan, surprising many who expected the new government to favor China.

Prime Minister Kenny Anthony said in an address late Tuesday that he wants to explore new opportunities for bilateral cooperation with Taiwan, but that he also wants to maintain fraternal relations with China.

The ruling Labor Party has always allied itself with China in the past, but Anthony said St. Lucia needs to stop acting like “a jack in the box jumping from one country to the other every few years.”

St. Lucia held relations with Taiwan from 1984 to 1997, with China from 1997 to 2006 and again with Taiwan since 2006.
However, the report says that PM Anthony accused the previous Taiwan ambassador of meddling in local politics, and warned the current one to play nice. Another report said:
St Lucia’s government has reportedly told Taiwanese Ambassador James Chang that the future of diplomatic relations between the two countries must be based on “respect for St Lucia’s laws, St Lucia’s traditions, culture and absolute non-interference in St Lucia’s domestic political affairs.”

Anthony also revealed that his government had initiated investigation into alleged payments made to members of the former government by Taiwan in 2007.

“We expressed the view that in our judgment, such payments and procedures, if made, breached both the law and acknowledged parliamentary practices in the authorization of the use of the funds,” Anthony said.
Apparently the opposition Labour Party felt the Taiwan ambassador had been tossing money around irresponsibly.... for example and this one too. In June of this year an article detailed the accusations:
The St Lucian leader hinted the probe will also cover what has become known as ‘Black Bay Scandal’, in which around 500 acres of land on the island’s southern tip was made available to a hotel developer in an investment that later failed, prompting the current government to buy back the land at a cost of 58 million EC dollars (21.4 million US dollars).

“There are some fundamental issues that face us, what occurred, for example, in respect of the Black Bay lands. This is a very serious matter.”

Since returning to office there has been much talk of building cross-party relationships but the traditional divisions between government and opposition are already resurfacing, particularly over St Lucia’s controversial relationship with Taiwan.

While in opposition, Dr. Anthony frequently complained about the method used by Taiwanese Ambassador Tom Chou to disburse funds to the UWP government and called for the money to go into the central government’s purse, the consolidated fund, instead of being funnelled directly into various municipalities to fund community projects.

The Taiwanese diplomat argued that once the funds were sent directly to the government in Castries, there was no guarantee that it would be used for their intended purpose.

But the SLP had often accused UWP ministers of having direct access to “Taiwanese largesse” and using it for their own purposes, including funding their re-election campaign.
The Prime Minister's complete address on the issue is online. He condemns not only the Taiwan Ambassador but also Chen Shui-bian for the "red envelope affair" in which Chen apparently tossed money all over the place during his visit to the island. One paragraph of the speech is a classic:
The clandestine manner in which diplomatic ties were established between Taiwan and Saint Lucia will be etched in all our minds for a long time. It remains one of the more sordid episodes in our political history. It has left many lingering questions for the state and for our citizens. For instance, it is an intriguing question as to why the late Sir John Compton, who was the architect of diplomatic relations with Taiwan during the period of the Cold War, was in fact willing to maintain diplomatic relations with mainland China; relations which were established by the Labour Administration in 1997. Furthermore, we are still unsure of what truly transpired in those fateful days and weeks of April 2007. Up to this day, this Government still cannot find any record of a formal agreement establishing bi-lateral relations with Taiwan, even though former Prime Minister Stephenson King makes mention of it in correspondence relating to the disbursement of Taiwanese funds.
The speech is not only a condemnation of Taiwn's foreign policy conduct during the Chen Administration, but a good explication of the issues small countries face in the Beijing vs Taipei tug-of-war. He observes.... "It would be both historic and helpful – indeed it would be perfect – if Saint Lucia could find a way to benefit from ties with both China and Taiwan, however defined. This is a dream many countries share and there has been no better time than now to engage China and Taiwan on this issue - as it relates to Saint Lucia - in the context of their increasing “cross straits” mutual cooperation and understanding."
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Jenna Lynn Cody said...

On the Orchid Island link: interesting.

One thing the article notes that has not been my experience is that flights and ferries to Orchid Island are often cancelled due to insufficient passenger numbers.

I don't know if that's true and my experience is just atypical, but I'd been trying to go to Orchid Island for quite some time, but in the past have tried to make plans for holiday weekends or when I had time free on short notice. In all instances, flights were sold out and the Daily Air rep helpfully told me I needed to plan in advance and not during a holiday.

If flights truly were cancelled frequently due to insufficient passengers, wouldn't it have been easier for me to get a ticket on short notice at the non-holiday times I tried to plan a trip there?

As for the local economy, I did see what appeared to be a lot of unemployment, but I didn't see tons of subsistence farming (not that I can easily tell the difference between that and non-subsistence farming). Some, yes, but most residents seem to own homestays, restaurants, scuba/snorkel businesses or shops, or are hired to work for such a business - there are also medical professionals, repairpeople and farmers who sell crops rather than grow them for survival. My observation could be wrong, or the article might be overstating how much of Lanyu's economy is based on subsistence agriculture.

Tommy said...

I have had the same trouble with trying to get to Lanyu before. The flights are always sold out or at really inconvenient times.