1989 / 2月
Ku Ling-hsiu /photos courtesy of Li Pei-hui /tr. by Phil Newell
Within the past year and a half, Premier Yu Kuo-hwa has four times gone abroad: to Singapore, the Republic of Korea, and Paraguay for visits, and most recently to the Bahamas for an even more important duty--the establishment of formal diplomatic relations. Afterward, the Premier also stopped over in the Dominican Republic and Guatemala.
Latin America is considered a likely stage for the ROC to make diplomatic breakthroughs, because the ROC has the resources to assist nations there, and because the Latin Americans are open, friendly, and emotional people who think more of "heartfelt effort" than traditional niceties of international law. With the recently added Bahamas, the ROC now has official relations with 13 Latin American nations, and 9 trade offices set up in seven others.
Kuo Kang, director of the Department of Central and South America at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, says "the best defense is a good offense." Though some criticize the small size of many ROC diplomatic partners, Director Kuo notes that all countries get one vote in international organizations; no one can be ignored. Also, it is hoped these countries can influence others to strengthen substantive or even to establish official relations with the ROC
On January 7, a special team flew thousands of miles over the Pacific and the Caribbean to the Bahamas to "make friends."
The lineup for this team was especially strong, including Premier Yu Kuo-hwa and Mrs. Yu; Minister of Communications Kuo Nan-hung; Vice Foreign Minister Charles Shu-chi King and Mrs. King; Government Information Office Director-General Shaw Yu-ming; Vice Chairman of the Council on Agriculture Chin Chao Koh; Chang Ping-nan, director of the Second Department(overseas and minorities affairs) of the Executive Yuan; Hoang Siou-je, director of the Protocol Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Kuo Kang, director of the ministry's Department of Central and South American Affairs.
For the ROC, long in a diplomatic slump, the establishment of relations is an important step. The news media dispatched a crowd of reporters to cover the event.
Political observers note that of the nine countries with whom the ROC has established relations since its withdrawal from the United Nations, the Bahamas is the most important.
Columbus landed here in 1492, discovering the New World. It became a British colony in 1783, gained self-governing status in 1964, and independence in 1973. This 13,900 square kilometer island group, population 24,000, is famous for tourism and finance, though not familiar to Chinese.
How did this connection come off?
In fact, the ROC sent out feelers in the early 80's when the Bahamian capital Nassau was one object of a search for an offshore financial center, but there was no response. Then, last March, Bahamian Prime Minister Lynden Pindling led a group of over forty on a personal visit to the ROC Because of Taiwan's rapid economic development, they planned to open a trade center here.
The Right Honorable Sir Pindling relates that after returning home, and deeper reflection, he concluded that the Taiwan experience is very valuable, especially in agricultural and industrial development, and resolved to deepen the relationship.
Last November 17, Vice Premier Clement T. Maynard, concurrently minister for both Foreign Affairs and Tourism, came to the ROC to attend a conference on the successful economic development strategies of nations in the Pacific rim. He signed a joint communique with Foreign Minister Lien Chan calling for establishment of formal relations at the earliest date.
On January 1, the two nations' foreign ministries issued announcements of the establishment of relations. One hour after, Premier Yu left for the Bahamas where he received a welcome appropriate to the new level of relations.
Premier Yu pointed out that the Bahamas is blessed with limitless natural beauty and friendly people. While there are differences in the two nations' development, both are freedom-loving democracies. He hoped that the establishment of relations would be a boon not only to friendly relations between the two countries, but also for the practical realization of justice and peace in the world.
On January 10, Premiers Yu and Pindling signed the "Joint Communique on Sino-Bahamian Friendship and Cooperation." The two sides agreed to promote relations in trade and economics (including commerce, tourism, and agriculture), culture, technology, education, sports, and the arts. After signing the two sides exchanged gifts representative of their nations.
In fact, real "exchange" has already begun.
Prime Minister Pindling has accepted an invitation to come to the ROC, and a work team has been sent to look at local agriculture and industry. The ROC will send teams to study the development of tourism and promote financial cooperation, as well as a technical team to help improve technology in the agriculture and fishing industries. Longdistance ROC fishing vessels will stop over in the Bahamas. Embassies should be open within two months.
In visiting two large factories, Premier Yu was especially interested in environmental protection technology. Both "hardware" and "software" aspects of the Bahamas' tourism industry are worthy of study. Minister Kuo and Vice Chairman Koh engaged in discussions with their Bahamian counterparts on areas of current concern and future cooperation.
The Bahamian people were deeply impressed by a US$20,000 contribution made by Premier and Mrs. Yu to a charitable institution. With wide media coverage, they now have a deeper understanding of the ROC
At the dinner hosted by Premier Yu, the premier noted that the ROC's huge foreign exchange reserves demand that it shoulder more responsibility in the world. "And we are prepared to shoulder that responsibility." But he also emphasized that "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence," and the ROC could learn much from the Bahamas' "green grass."
Here's to keeping relations between the two sides growing along with it.
On January 12, the special team arrived in the Dominican Republic, where they were given a dinner by Vice President Carlos Morales Troncoso. At Premier Yu's return dinner, the ailing 80-year-old President, Dr. Joaquin Balaguer, was scheduled to come for ten minutes; fascinated in discussing the Taiwan experience with Premier Yu, he stayed for forty, a very special consideration. Mrs. Yu visited an orphanage during the stop.
On the 14th the party arrived in Guatemala, where they were hosted at a lunch by President Vinicio Cerezo Arevalo. The President and Vice-President also held press conferences; diplomatic and economic and trade relations between Guatemala and the ROC were central topics. Premier Yu brought a gift of a US$5 million loan for developing small enterprises. In Latin America, the Taiwan experience holds great attraction, and Premier Yu's long-term status of "banker" won considerable respect among leading politicians there.
This trip, on top of last year's visit to Paraguay, has clearly narrowed the distance between Latin America and the ROC And this is only the beginning.
The Joint Communique on Sino-Bahamian Friendship and Cooperation was jointly signed by Premier Yu Kuo-hwa of the ROC and Prime Minister Lynden Pindling of the Bahamas.
The picture of a sailboat, fair skies, and blue ocean was given to the R .O.C. by the Bahamas on the occasion of the two countries' establishing relations.
Premier Yu used some spare time to chat with reporters.
The Bahamian government surprised Premier Yu with a birthday cake to mark his 75th birthday, which was January 10th.
At the dinner given by Premier Yu in Sir Pindling's honor, the two sides drank a toast to mutual friendship.
Premier Yu was accorded a red carpet reception on his arrival in Dominic a.
Premier Yu conferred an honorary sash on the president of Do Minica, Dr. President Joaquin Balaguer.