TAIWAN NOT HAPPY AT BEING SNUBBED BY PNG

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (May 24, 2000 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---The Trade Mission of the Republic of China on Taiwan feels it is being snubbed by the PNG Government despite its efforts in providing agricultural research and expertise to farmers.

It therefore is reluctant to extend additional aid because of this official attitude to ignore its representation in the country, senior officials of the trade mission said last Friday.

Both the trade representative, Mr. Tony Hsieh, and his assistant, Eliot Jiang, said that since Mr. Hsieh's arrival two months ago, he has been refused unofficial courtesy calls on the Governor General, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Affairs Minister because of PNG's staunch support of the one China policy, which only recognizes the Peoples Republic of China.

The snub continued on Friday when Sir Michael Somare was the only politician and Cabinet minister present at a luncheon to honor the inauguration of Taiwan's newly elected president, Mr. Chen Shui-bian, which took place on Saturday.

Sir Michael is Bougainville Affairs Minister, and was Foreign Affairs Minister until replaced recently by Sir John Kaputin.

Ten other ministers who were invited confirmed their attendance but failed to show up for the luncheon.

According to Mr. Jiang, the PNG government has been unfriendly to the mission, in spite of its willingness to help in many ways as well as encourage trade, tourism and investment in the country.

Citing examples of this attitude, Mr. Hsieh said: "Our agriculture team has been here 10 years. I want to have courtesy calls on the foreign affairs minister or the governor general, your Prime Minister but (can't) because of your one China policy."

Mr. Hsieh said he had met a few ministers in private but nothing official had been extended to him. He said many people saw Taiwan as an important partner but what was sometimes discouraging was the one China policy adopted by the PNG Government.

"I don't blame them; they have to listen to the PM. We understand that, but we also feel frustrated," he said.

Mr. Hsieh said the new president, Mr. Chen, has vowed to work for better ties with other countries and to try his best to improve relations towards a peaceful reunification of China under democracy and welfare. He would also honor all treaties and existing cooperative programs and projects.

Mr. Hsieh said while some people thought PNG soil was not suitable for rice cultivation, Taiwanese experts, working under the "fiery sun and against hard soil," had proven that PNG could grow rice.

Sir Michael said he had, during the term of the Namaliu government in 1991, invited the Taiwanese to open a trade mission and carry out the successful agricultural research program.

He said the Republic of China on Taiwan was a democracy which held regular democratic elections to choose their leadership and government, so it was worthwhile to recognize it.

Sir Michael conveyed, as an individual and on behalf of the people of PNG, warm greetings to the new president. He also expressed hope for successful negotiations and for understanding between the two Chinas.

Mr. Hsieh said scare tactics used by certain foreign countries, lack of good road and transport infrastructure and customary land ownership, were reasons hindering increased trade and investment from their country into Papua New Guinea.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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