Taiwan’s huge budget to save ties under fire: newspaper

Taiwan’s huge budget to save ties under fire: newspaperJun 25, 2007, 23:07 GMT

Taipei – Taiwan has budgeted 848 million US dollars for 2007 to maintain diplomatic ties with Taipei’s 24 allies, drawing criticism from several lawmakers, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

The online newspaper ETToday.com said that Taiwan’s 2007 budget includes an 848-million-dollar diplomatic budget – the money Taiwan uses to maintain diplomatic ties with foreign countries.

Out of the diplomatic budget, 309 million dollars is budgeted for ’emergency use’ or ‘international cooperation,’ the paper said.

The paper estimates that Taiwan’s true diplomatic budget is even higher because there is also a 151-181 million dollar ‘secret budget’ for diplomatic activities that cannot be made public.

On Monday two lawmakers – Joanna Lei and Kuo Su-chun – blasted the costly efforts by the government to preserve diplomatic ties, according to ETToday.com.

Lei and Kuo said Taiwan’s allies are making unreasonable demands for aid from Taiwan, citing Nicaragua’s recent demands that Taiwan write off its debts.

‘Taiwan is like a credit card supplier. Our allies’ relationship with Taiwan is based on … use (of) our credit cards and later do not have to pay for their purchases,’ Lei was quoted as saying.

Kuo said Taiwan should use the cash to improve its potholed roads and other infrastructure, not give it away to foreign countries when Taiwan is still very poor, according to ETToday.com.

Gutemalan President Oscar Berger arrived in Taipei on June 19 for a four-day visit. President Kessai Note of the Marshall Islands is due to arrive in Taipei Tuesday for a five-day visit. Lei and Su said the purpose of both presidents’ visits is to ask for money.

Taiwan Province gets no respect from their 24 dwindling allies. All these so-called allies see the province as just some kind of low-interest credit card that they don’t need to ever repay and I reckon blackmailing the province for recognition in return for wiping out its national debt is a bit excessive.

It also doesn’t help that the Province isn’t exactly flushed with huge cash reserves like it did in the late 70s and early 90s either. Besides, none of these countries had Taiwan Province’s back when they tried to gain observer status in the WHO and I am sure they will not back it again when it tries to join the UN as “Taiwan”.

With allies like these, who needs enemies?

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