ADDRESS TO THE NATION BY
PRIME MINISTERTHE HON. KENNY D. ANTHONY
ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH THE
PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF CHINA
AUGUST 29th, 1997.
Fellow Saint Lucians, my brothers and sisters, good night.
Over the last few weeks, there has been much speculation as to whether the Saint
Lucia Labour Party Government would be changing its policy on diplomatic
relations with the Republic of China on Taiwan. In earlier pronouncements by
myself and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. George Odlum, we had indicated
that the Labour Party Government was in fact reviewing its policy towards China
and that a statement would be made at the appropriate time.
I believe that in the conduct of the affairs of state, we should wait for the
right moment to publicly announce The course of action of the Government. I do
not believe that it is wise to rush to make a public statement every time
something is reported, or speculated, in the press. I ask you to continue to
have the trust in me that I will always inform you on what is happening in the
country. There was a report earlier today from the Public Relations Officer of
the United Workers Party to the effect that we denied we were breaking
diplomatic relations with Taiwan. You know that this is not true. We never
denied anything. I simply believe that there is a right time for everything.
Today, I think that the time is right, and I wish to brief you on the
Government’s position on the China question.
Background to the establishment of diplomatic relations with Taiwan by the
When the Government of Saint Lucia established relations with the Republic of
China on Taiwan in 1984, this was done within a particular local and
international context. The UWP Government was, at that time, seeking investment
from the far east, for the garment industry and other related fields, and was
looking towards Hong Kong in particular for that investment.
The prospect of Hong Kong reverting to the control of Mainland China, had meant
that there was capital in Hong Kong, searching for new areas in which to nestle.
The then Government in St. Lucia, saw diplomatic relations with the Republic of
China on Taiwan, as providing an avenue to, and an assurance for that Hong Kong
capital, and for providing a possible source of support for a free trade zone in
St. Lucia. The UWP Government proceeded to establish formal diplomatic relations
with the Republic of China on Taiwan.
Since then, Saint Lucia and Taiwan had developed warm and friendly relations.
The Government of the Republic of China on Taiwan has provided Saint Lucia with
various forms of technical assistance and support. I wish to reiterate the
appreciation of the peoples of Saint Lucia, for that token of friendship and for
the work done here by the various diplomatic representatives of Taiwan. Saint
Lucia on the other hand, has consistently supported the call for the readmission
of the Republic of China on Taiwan into the United Nations - a call that has so
far been unsuccessful. The world simply does not regard it as realistic in the
circumstances. Nevertheless, St. Lucia has never flinched in helping to advance
the cause of Taiwan to an international community which is not prepared to
listen. So while the entire world was moving towards Mainland China, the last
administration continued to support the position of Taiwan. For example, during
the last two months both the Bahamas and South Africa have broken ties with
Taiwan and established relations with Mainland China.
Reasons for considering diplomatic relations with mainland china
In our election manifesto, the Saint Lucia Labour Party promised to sharpen the
focus of its foreign policy on the objectives of the economic and social
development of our country. We will be continually assessing our needs in Saint
Lucia and will ensure that our foreign policy is in keeping with those needs.
In the case of our relations with Taiwan, fourteen years after the establishment
of diplomatic relations, the local and international context which prompted the
setting up of these relations has changed. The hope for capital from Hong Kong
for the local manufacturing sector, did not materialise, neither has the free
trade zone, and Hong Kong itself has now reverted to mainland Chinese
The international context has changed in other ways. The number of countries
which in 1984 had full diplomatic relations with Taiwan and with the Peoples
Republic of China has now changed. Today, the number of countries with relations
with the Republic of China on Taiwan, has diminished to 31, and those with the
People's Republic of China, has grown to 159. Of these 159, the following
Caribbean countries have relations with the peoples Republic of China - Antigua
and Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and more
recently, the Bahamas.
1. The majority of countries in the world today have full diplomatic relations
with the People's Republic of China. From the point of view of international
law, the recognition of the administration on Taiwan as the Government of all
China, is not tenable. This is why countries ranging from the USA to Barbados,
have recognised the administration in Beijing as the legitimate government of
China. Therefore, our decision is in keeping with international developments on
the non-recognition of Taiwan as a legitimate state.
Locally, our priorities have also changed from what the then UWP Government was
hoping for in 1984. Building a garment industry with Hong Kong capital is no
longer the great objective that it appeared to be. Our commercial sector is now
seeking new trading opportunities and new frontiers. Hong Kong is now the
gateway to Mainland China, with the vast trade possibilities which lie there.
Taiwan can no longer provide the link with Hong Kong.
There is also the reality that, internationally, we have witnessed a decline in
development finance. This suggests that Saint Lucia needs to develop a foreign
policy which would provide the greatest possibilities for such financing. We
cannot remain trapped in the arrangements of the past administration, which was
consistent with the UWP’s approach to development. We have taken stock of the
needs of our country. We must vigorously pursue a course of action which will
bring maximum benefit to our country.
For all these reasons, the Saint Lucia Labour Party government has therefore
decided to establish formal diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of
China, as from September 1st., 1997. Unfortunately, Since one cannot recognise
two different administrations as being the Government of one country, formal
diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China will mean the severing
of relations with the Republic of China on Taiwan. We have, however, offered to
maintain commercial relations with the Republic of China. This is not unusual,
as the Republic of China on Taiwan does have such relations with the majority of
the countries, which broke off diplomatic relations since 1971.
By taking such action, we will be joining over one hundred and fifty countries
including the great democracies which are our traditional friends - the UK, the
USA, France and Canada, To name a few - to recognise the Beijing administration
as the Government of China.
There are persons - now discredited - who are seeking to eke out some political
capital from our decision to enter into diplomatic relations with the People's
Republic of China, to make you believe that the SLP has committed some
duplicitous, unforgivable act. To them, we say, We are simply conducting a more
realistic foreign policy than they dared to practice. The United Workers Party,
over the past thirteen years, was comfortable with a foreign policy which sought
to keep ministers happy instead of seeking funds to develop the people of our
country. In all this, we have been very open with the Taiwanese and have
discussed the issue with them throughout our deliberations on the matter. Our
approach will always be one of gaining respect for St. Lucia through a sensible
By concluding diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, Saint
Lucia will only be modernising its foreign policy, and proceeding in a direction
which the majority of the world's states have already trod. In addition to
concluding diplomatic relations, Saint Lucia will, on September 1st, 1997, also
sign an economic cooperation agreement with the People's Republic of China, the
details of which will be released in due course. In this regard, a team of
Chinese technical experts will be arriving in Saint Lucia next week to evaluate
with local counterparts, a number of development projects in Saint Lucia, to be
undertaken under the terms of the economic cooperation agreement.
We are charting a new course and establishing new friendships with countries
which are committed to being partners with us, in the social and economic
development of our people, in a very tangible way. I ask you to welcome them, to
extend to them our traditional hospitality, as they work with us, as equal
partners, in the task of building a new St. Lucia.
I thank you and good night.