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Jan 17, 2006

Taiwan ambassador finds lasting friendships in Belize

Story PictureAs Taiwan’s fourth and longest serving ambassador to Belize, Charles Tsai has presided over a deepening of ties between two countries unprecedented since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1989. At the end of January, Tsai will leave his post for reassignment to the Foreign Ministry in Taipei. This morning he spoke to News Five’s Stewart Krohn, who asked him what he considers to be his most important accomplishment.

Charles Tsai, Taiwanese Ambassador to Belize
?I think the technical cooperation programme at our mission in Central Farm… and I find of course that Belize has a lot of potential for different kinds of excellent exports. For example, the pitaya. You know when I showed you the pitaya in the U.S. I took photos, six dollars U.S. per pound. It grows well here. Bee pollen, I have one pack for you because I know it can give you more strength.?

And while Belizean bee pollen may keep the sixty-year-old Tsai looking forty, it is more likely that he will be remembered here for big ticket items like multimillion dollar loans to government to support our balance of payments, purchase Belize Water Services, and build part of the Southern Highway. The question is: do the Taiwanese people support these expensive efforts?

Charles Tsai
?In Taiwan, we have twenty-three million people and we treasure the friendships that we have, the relations with the twenty-five countries now. And we treasure our friendships and we believe that we should share some experience and if a friends needs, I think that we are happy that we could extend some assistance. But we are?you know Mainland China and Taiwan, that is a history of dispute. They think Taiwan is a part of China, but we don?t believe so. We are thinking that one day we can sit down and talk with Mainland China in a peaceful way.?

Stewart Krohn
?Ambassador, you spoke of the People?s Republic of China trying to squeeze Taiwan. And we know one of the ways they try to squeeze Taiwan is to take countries that currently have relations with Taiwan and induce them to switch over, break relations with Taiwan and establish relations with the PRC, usually for a financial inducement. Are you worried that this is a scenario that could happen in Belize, either with the present government or some future government??

Charles Tsai
?No, I don?t think so, because those countries?we have about ten different countries in Central America and the Caribbean?and I believe we share the same kind of ideas. Like Belize here, you are a democratic country, you are a peace loving country, of course other countries in Central America too. So we share the same ideas. Mainland China is Mainland China, Taiwan is Taiwan; two different countries. And from 1949…?

Stewart Krohn
?Let me interrupt, Ambassador; we know the history, let?s focus on the present government and any future government. Are you takings steps to ensure that the friendship that you as a diplomat have so cultivated, have you taken steps to ensure that that relationship will continue??

Charles Tsai
?We established diplomatic relations with Belize in 1989. In 1993, there was a change of government… I think the relationship is continuing.?

Stewart Krohn
?So you are not worried that if the present government leaves office in 2008 that a new government wouldn?t be tempted to break relations and sign on with PRC??

Charles Tsai
?You see, we treasure the friendship… and the Belizean people, the Belizean government treasure the friendship with Taiwan.?

Stewart Krohn
?When you speak of the relations between Belize and Taiwan you often use the word friendship, but it seems that on a personally level, you and your wife have established an extraordinary amount of friendships with Belizeans of all ranks and stations. Is this something that typically happens for a Taiwanese diplomat??

Charles Tsai
?I treasure my five years and ten months here. My wife and I, we find the Belizean people as the most friendly people; somebody call me, tell me I?m a Caribbean man. And most of my friends here, they think I am a Belizean now. So I appreciate the government, the people, that they recognise me as a Belizean, that?s why I they award me the Belizean Patriot Award. So I believe?after a few weeks I am no longer ambassador, I return to Taiwan, but I will work closely with Belize?s ambassador to Taiwan, His Excellency Ambassador William Quinto, to further strengthen the relations and work together with your ambassador there. Although I am not ambassador, I will try my best to work closely with your ambassador in Taiwan in agriculture, business, or in some economic development projects there.?

The Tsai family will further cement relations with Belize later this month when their daughter’s wedding–to an American–will be held at the Belize City House of Culture. Tsai’s successor, Joseph Shih, will arrive in early February. He is currently Taiwan’s representative in New Zealand.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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