St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Taiwan have maintained unbroken diplomatic ties since 1981.

The two main political parties here have restated their commitment to maintaining diplomatic ties with Taiwan, following a suggestion by an opposition politician that Kingstown was giving Taipei “fishing rights” in return for “wax apple”.

The statement was made by the opposition New Democratic Party’s (NDP) candidate for Central Leeward, Ben Exeter, who recently returned to St. Vincent from Canada, where he had been living for some 40 years.

“As far as I am aware, Exeter is the first candidate of any major political party since we have established relations with Taiwan to have questioned to the point of opposing our relations with Taiwan, and he did so on an incorrect factual base,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told I-Witness News on Saturday.

“We have given Taiwan no fisheries rights to fish in our waters or in our exclusive economic zone. Absolutely not! And, obviously, this man is taking his leadership from the Green Party and not from his own party,” Gonsalves said.

Both the Gonsalves-led Unity Labour Party (ULP) and the NDP have restated their commitment to maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan, which have remained unbroken since they were established in 1981.

The Green Party, which got less than 1 per cent of the votes in the 2010 general elections, have remained opposed to the relationship with Taiwan.

Gonsalves noted the improved relationship between Beijing and Taipei, since Ma Ying-Jeou was elected president of Taiwan in 2008.

He said it is perfectly in order for somebody to advocate pursuing “some amended China policy” in light of the rapprochement between Beijing and Taipei, both of which say the are the legitimate seat of government for both China and Taiwan.

“Of course, the point is this, there is a difference nowadays, particularly since President Ma and the lessening of tensions across the Taiwan Strait and that is an issue which reasonable people can discuss.

“You don’t, in a crass way, make the opposition to our relationship with Taiwan or argue for the diminution on the basis of something false,” Gonsalves said.

NDP candidate for Central Leeward, Ben Exeter, left, and NDP Vice-President and spokesperson on foreign relation, Godwin Friday, among protester in the NDP’s “Ring De Bell” march on Kingstown on Thursday. (IWN Photo)
NDP candidate for Central Leeward, Ben Exeter, left, and NDP Vice-President and spokesperson on foreign relation, Godwin Friday, among protester in the NDP’s “Ring De Bell” march on Kingstown on Thursday. (IWN photo)

He explained that some Taiwanese vessels are registered in St. Vincent and fly the Vincentian flag.

“But that registration does not give them the right to fish in our exclusive economic zone,” Gonsalves said.

He told I-Witness News he is “very pleased” with the relationship between Kingstown and Taipei.

“Our relations are excellent, as symbolized by the recent visit of President Ma to us and an invitation for me to go very shortly to see President Ma,” Gonsalves said.

Ma visited SVG in August 2013 as part of a tour of some of Taiwan’s allies in the Americas.

“We have excellent relations. Our co-operation is taking place on matters of interest to St. Vincent and the Grenadines and to Taiwan. We get a lot of material assistance from them and we assist them on a number of matters, internationally,” Gonsalves said.

He noted that ULP senator, Jomo Thomas, the party’s candidate for South Leeward, used to call for relationship with mainland China rather than Taiwan.

“Obviously, you can’t ignore 1.3 billion people, the second largest economy in the world. But we have an excellent relationship with Taiwan, and the government doesn’t see any reason to change that.

“Even though we co-operate with mainland China in the UN General Assembly, we co-operate in the G77 and China, but we don’t have diplomatic relations with mainland China.

“I am not saying that Exeter is a stupid man, it just shows that on this matter he is ignorant of the foreign relations. And if he doesn’t know about things, he should not talk about them, and be educated by his leadership.”

Meanwhile, Godwin Friday, the NDP’s spokesperson on foreign relations, told I-Witness News on Friday that the NDP remains committed to the SVG-Taiwan ties.

“I don’t know what the comments are that you are specifically referring to, but I am sure that if you speak to those persons who are making the comments privately about details, I am sure you will find that their support and commitment is consistent with the NDP’s position on that,” Friday said.

Friday, who is MP for the Northern Grenadines and a vice-president of the NDP, said that SVG has historically had a lot of support from Taiwan and his party expect that that will continue.

“We hope that the relationship that it matures that we will be able to get things that are more for the development of the country rather than for show,” adding that sometimes if an issue arises ”you find that for diplomatic or public relations reasons” sometime is given, “but its actual long-term contribution to the country may be minimal”.

Friday noted Taiwan’s contribution to the building of the Argyle International Airport, relief and recover after natural disasters, education, and agriculture and agricultural research.

6 replies on “Taiwan boats don’t fish in SVG’s waters — PM”

  1. Peter binose says:

    I would very much like Taiwan to say if they fish in Vincentian waters, do so now or have done in the past. Thank you Taiwanese people and I am sorry this matter has arisen, but to clear the matter up would you please tell us, do you fish in our waters?

    Sorry I cannot accept the word of Prime Minister Gonsalves because he once told the Nation that he sometimes tell lies. Since then I have found it impossible to believe any comment or statement that he makes. As my daddy said “once a liar always a liar”.

  2. How can a man (Ben Execter) who has spent the best forty years of his life in a foreign country, show up out of thin air and want to represent people? Has he been contributing to the development of SVG in some way that I am not aware of? Was he being sarcastic when he mentioned SVG trading fishing rights with Taiwan for wax apples, or is he just plain ignorant of the state of our diplomatic relations with Taiwan? If ignorance is the reason, then one may wonder how much” out of touch” he is with SVG.

  3. Peter Binose says:

    How on earth would Gonsalves know that. Taiwan is known as the owners of the largest distant water fishing fleet in the world, 2500 fishing boats and factory ships. They are known as the worlds greatest fishing pirates and ‘Green Peace’ believe they are fishery terrorists.

    They are known to fish illegally in everyone’s waters whilst sailing under flags of convenience [FOC], including to a very large scale the flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, who make up the greatest part of their FOC fleet. They are carrying out fishing atrocities hiding behind our flag.

    Seeing as SVG have no fishery protection vessels, and no fishery surveillance aircraft, everyone is fishing in our waters including Venezuelans.

    The Taiwanese are responsible for almost wiping out the Atlantic/Caribbean White Marlin. As part of their operation they also tour all the seas illegally fishing shark, cutting off the fins and throwing the body back into the sea.

    They have brought the tuna fish stock world wide almost to a non recoverable point in stocks.

    They hide behind the Vincentian flag whilst plundering fish stocks everywhere. The flag allows them to circumvent international treaties and regulations which their own government would be obliged to prosecute them for the international regulation that they break.

    http://acpfish2-eu.org/index.php?page=st-vincent-and-the-grenadines

    http://www.caricom-fisheries.com/

    http://www.iccat.int/Documents/CVSP/CV069_2013/n_3/CV069031213.pdf

    Taiwan’s use of flags of convenience and some of the concerns raised by
    this issue were covered in a Greenpeace report, ‘The Inconvenient Truth of
    Taiwan’s Flags of Convenience’, published in September 2010. http://www.
    greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/publications/oceans/2010/
    Taiwan%20FOC%20report%202010.pdf

    http://www.seaweb.org/resources/briefings/flags_convenience.php

    http://www.chinapost.com.tw/editorial/taiwan-issues/2009/12/03/235056/Taiwan-should.htm

    http://www.itfseafarers.org/illegal-activities.cfm

  4. “But that registration does not give them the right to fish in our exclusive economic zone,” Gonsalves said.
    The above quote is from Ralph and it doesn’t say they don’t fish in SVG waters. It clearly says they don’t have the right. So, it’s anybody’s guess what is the real story on this fishing issue.
    If Ben has data to prove his point, then he should lay them on the table. I questioned this assumption when he made it to me in Layou. I indicated to him, to get acquainted with the problems faced by the fishermen, a stone throw away from where he lives. It’s easier to deal with what’s before you than with ships you can’t see.

  5. Urlan Alexander says:

    “As far as I am aware, Exeter is the first candidate of any major political party since we have established relations with Taiwan to have questioned to the point of opposing our relations with Taiwan, and he did so on an incorrect factual base,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told I-Witness News on Saturday”
    This PM of SVG is either going senile or believes that Vincentians are shallow brains or downright dotish people. I recalled vividly that Ralph E Gonsalves referred to Taiwan as a ROGUE STATE when the late Hon Robert Milton Cato established diplomatic relationship with Taiwan. I continued to say that this man is a hypocrite of the highest order.

  6. Peter Binose says:

    In the comments I previously posted i said “The Taiwanese are responsible for almost wiping out the Atlantic/Caribbean White Marlin. As part of their operation they also tour all the seas illegally fishing shark, cutting off the fins and throwing the body back into the sea”.

    I forgot to tell you that the Taiwanese fishermaen cut the fins off and throw the shark back in the water alive, to die the most horrendous death.

    Why the fins? because they are worth US$100 a kilo on the Chinese market.

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