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Ambassador Cheng looking for person to person relations

Ambassador Cheng looking for person to person relations

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His Excellency Ambassador Yu Tai Cheng took up duties as the Republic of China’s (Taiwan) Ambassador to St. Vincent and the Grenadines last February 14, replacing Madam Elizabeth Chu.

Cheng noted that since August 15, 1981, relations between St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Republic have grown from strength to strength. {{more}}

Former Prime Ministers the Right Honourable Robert Milton Cato, and Sir James Mitchell, as well as current leader Dr. Ralph Gonsalves have visited Taiwan in their capacity as Head of State.

But Ambassador Cheng is predicting a shift to include a more “person to person” approach.

He made the point clear while he spoke on the eve of the 25th anniversary celebrations.

Prime Minister Milton Cato broke the ice and set the foundation for the establishment for the relations with a visit to Taiwan. That delegation included former National Security Minister Sir Vincent Beache, who at that time served as Agriculture Minister.

Also in that delegation was Permanent Secretary James Pompey, father of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security Godfred Pompey.

The Cato regime was removed from office following the July 25 general elections, and Sir James Mitchell took over as Prime Minister.

Sir James made two trips to Taiwan: in 1990 and 1995.

Dr. Ralph Gonsalves wasted no time in visiting the Asian Island, once he became Prime Minister, and his trip to Taiwan last June 2006 was his fourth. After his elevation to the post of Prime Minister March 28, 2001, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves was in Taiwan May, 2001. He visited the island nation again in September 2003 and October 2004.

His trip last June was to finalise arrangements for assistance for the Argyle International Airport, as well as to discuss the 2007 to 2011 Civic Assistance Programme. Some US$10 million has been earmarked in relation to this venture.

But the list of persons who have benefited from the Taiwan experience is not confined to Prime Ministers. Almost all the Ministers of government have been to Taiwan. Ambassador Cheng stressed that point when he spoke.

Dr. Gonsalves has been a Taiwanese ally from almost time immemorial. In 1996, as a remote opposition figure, he touched down on Taiwan soil.

Present Deputy Prime Minister Sir Louis Straker also became a staunch Taiwanese supporter. His first trip to Taiwan was in March 1999. Sir Louis was elected to Parliament in the February 21, 1994 general elections. After 1999, he has been to Taiwan on three other occasions, in his capacity as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister. Those were in August 2002, August 2004, and June 2006.

Newly installed Tourism Youth and Sport Minister is yet to make an official trip as a Minister of government, one which according to Ambassador Cheng is very much on the cards, but Beache spent some time in Taiwan learning Mandarin Chinese as a student.

Cheng is happy with the government-to-government level, but he is anxious to see the bonds improve at the ordinary rank. He is impressed with the infrastructure, which the Taiwanese government and their people have contributed to this nation’s development. He cited the number of Learning Resource Centres, roads, and other social spheres like the Youth Empowerment Service known as the Yes Programme which have the stamp of Taiwanese approval.

“In the future, we want to be more person to person,” Cheng disclosed. And he anticipates farmers, entrepreneurs and other small ventures expanding links with Taiwanese counterparts.

Cheng is also pleased with the way his country has become engaged in enhancing this country’s education capacity.

He cited scholarships offered to students at primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.

“Our purpose is to help in whatever way we can. This country will have a bright future,” he disclosed.

It has not been a one-way traffic to Taiwan as far as Vincentian government officials are concerned.

A host of high-ranking Taiwanese officials has crossed the waters to this tiny Caribbean State.

In September 2001, Premier of Taiwan, Chang Chung-hsuing, was in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of construction for a new modern library at Richmond Hill. In September 2005, President Chen Shui Bian was in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. On that visit was leader of the ruling party Su Teng Chang, who is the current Taiwanese Premier, and James Huang, the present Foreign Minister.

Ambassador Cheng looks at the links between Taiwan and SVG as solid, given the familiarity of these top ranking government officials with St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Former Ministers of Foreign Affairs Honourable Dr. Fredrick Chen in October 1995, and John Chang in August 1997, have also visited SVG.

The visits have also included Governors-General Sir Frederick Ballantnye in 2003 following on trips by his predecessors, Sir David Jack in 1992, and Sir Charles Antrobus in 1997.

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