Taiwan has responsibility for legitimate aid, president says
Central News Agency
2014-02-05 09:43 PM
Taipei, Feb. 5 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou on Wednesday defended Taiwan's monetary aid to allied nations, saying that the government must spend aid money responsibly and abide by principles of legitimate aims, legal methods and effective implementation. Speaking about his eight-day diplomatic tour that wrapped up last week, Ma told a meeting of the ruling Kuomintang's Central Standing Committee that "providing foreign aid cannot be avoided." Ma is also the chairman of the Kuomintang. "We would like to help others," he said, even if countries in need do not have formal diplomatic ties with Taipei. "Based on the principles of humanitarian action, we must help," he said, citing the example of Taiwan's relief efforts to the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan left thousands dead in the country. The Republic of China government in Taiwan must continue to provide assistance to allies, he continued, because many of them view Taiwan as a highly developed country. "When you've developed well and you're relatively rich, you have an obligation to help out those countries that are further behind," he said. Ma also addressed ties with The Gambia, which announced in November last year that it was cutting off relations with Taipei effective immediately. Taiwan could not meet the West African nation's request to provide additional funds, Ma explained, because it went against his administration's principles regarding foreign aid. At the same time, the unexpected termination of bilateral ties was a wake-up call because, unlike past situations, the split was not an attempt by the former ally to forge relations with Beijing at the expense of those with Taipei. Ma also expressly noted that Taiwan has no objections to allies seeking unofficial trade ties with China. "I have told them (allies in Latin America) that while we wish to consolidate our diplomatic ties, you can go make ties with mainland China in trade and investment. We will not object," he said. He recognized the appeal of trade with China and that "there is no way Taiwan could compete with it in this field," saying that "there is nothing wrong with" maintaining official ties with Taipei while exploring trade relations with China. Taiwan currently has 22 allies, mostly developing nations in Africa, Latin America and the South Pacific. Since Taiwan lost The Gambia -- the first in five years -- many have worried about the future of diplomatically isolated Taiwan, which has long struggled to forge such relationships because of opposition from China. Ma's administration has promoted what it calls a "diplomatic truce" with Beijing, wherein the two sides have not actively sought to take allies from one another. Critics have charged that Taiwan's foreign diplomacy continues past practices of winning over friends with money. (By Lee Shu-hua and Maia Huang)
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