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Prime Minister on the Termination of Diplomatic Relations with Taiwan - September 5, 1997

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on the Termination of Diplomatic Relations with Taiwan

Brothers and sisters, fellow Saint  Lucians, good night.

I wish to condemn unequivocally the latest statement by the former Ambassador of the Republic of China in Taiwan Steve Hsu on the termination of diplomatic relations between Saint Lucia and Taiwan. The ambassador’s statements, particularly with respect to the Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, are not only grossly out of place, but also represent a crude and rude interference in the internal affairs of Saint Lucia.

The fact of the matter is that Saint Lucia never broke its word to Taiwan on the future of their relations. Rather, it was the Taiwanese who failed to keep their word, when they realised that the absurdity of their international situation had once more caught up with them. It is indeed true that both the Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister did indicate to Taiwan that Saint Lucia intended to continue to have friendly relations with Taiwan. Surely, we do have the right to review our diplomatic relations with any country in keeping with the priorities of our country and the opportunities which exist in the world. In any event, as a diplomat, the Taiwanese Ambassador knows that friendly relations could be at either the diplomatic or commercial/consular level.

I assure you that, as Prime Minister of Saint Lucia and a leader in the Caribbean Region, I will always defend the right of countries, and especially small states, to determine their own foreign policy. No country, no matter how large or powerful, has the right to impose their will upon us. The principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, respect for sovereignty, and the right to self-determination will be vigorously defended by this government.

I would not have wanted to go into detail on the discussions between Saint Lucia and Taiwan. However, the  Ambassador of Taiwan has been so disrespectful and impolite to us who have been so gracious and hospitable to them. I have the responsibility to respond and explain to you why the ambassador cannot seem to accept our decision.

When we began consideration of the approach by the People’s Republic of China for the establishment of diplomatic relations, the representatives of Taiwan were informed of this development, and were told, that no matter what the outcome of the deliberations, Saint Lucia would wish to maintain links with Taiwan.

After we decided to establish relations with the people’s Republic of China, Ambassador Hsu  and the Taiwanese representatives in Saint Lucia were informed of that decision. We offered to maintain relations with Taiwan, as we had promised, but at the commercial level. Taiwan declined, but both sides agreed to keep an embargo on Saint Lucia’s decision until September 1st 1997.

However, it was the Taiwanese, who, with September 1st approaching, broke their word to Saint Lucia about the embargo. They proceeded to announce in Taipei and through a local media organization in St. Lucia, their own suspension of relations with Saint Lucia. This was done because the Taiwanese leadership, who were holding their party congress at that time, were frightened of the domestic political implications of losing St. Lucia during their party congress. Of course, I do not have to tell you what will happen now that Saint Lucia has gone its own way.

Fellow Saint  Lucian's , what is most disturbing about the reaction of the Taiwanese is the similarity of views between themselves and a few discontented persons in Saint Lucia. Some people just do not learn that they must respect the wishes of Saint Lucian's  - whether in national or international politics. It appears that I will have to make it a lot clearer to Ambassador Hsu and his disgruntled local friends that they are rude to question the right of this government and the role of the Foreign Minister in the determination of our foreign policy. They are dismayed that the people of St. Lucia have stood in full support of the change in policy made by their leaders. The people of St. Lucia do not need Ambassador Hsu to tell them about leadership and credibility. You demonstrated your faith conclusively on may 23rd 1997. Ambassador Hsu should therefore lecture to his friends in St. Lucia who were rejected by the people on May  23rd  about credibility and leadership. I must ask Ambassador Hsu and his disgruntled friends to practice customary diplomatic prudence and circumspection in their statements and actions. If this is the typical reaction of the Taiwanese, to those who decide to change the nature of their relations with them, then it is small wonder that their circle of diplomatic friends has shrunk so much.

September 5, 1997

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