Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves presents a painting to Ambassador Weber Shih. (IWN photo)

Taiwan’s ambassador to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Weber Shih, will conclude his tour of duty on Aug. 30, having completed his “special mission” in this country.

“Four years ago, I came to this beautiful country with a special mission, among others, to materialise the pledge to build the passenger terminal of the Argyle International Airport,” Shih said last week at a reception hosted by Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves in his honour.

“Over the years, I have had the honour to witness the signing of the construction agreement between IADC (International Airport Development Company) and OECC (Overseas Engineering and Construction Co. Ltd.), to observe all stages of the construction, and more importantly, to hand over the completed project to the Honourable Prime Minister and to see it standing tall as a landmark of the island,” Shih said.

The Taiwan-funded terminal building was handed over to the government last December, at least one year ahead of the projected completion date of the EC$700 million airport.

Shih, however, said that during his stint his embassy paid no less attention to other areas of co-operation in SVG, such as infrastructure, agriculture, education, information communication technology, healthcare, and cultural exchanges.

“… for the result we have delivered, I want to offer my special thanks to the leadership of the Honourable Prime Minister and the joint efforts of our Vincentian colleagues,” Shih said.

Shih will become secretary-general of his country’s International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF).“I look forward to continuing my efforts to promote our existing project cooperation,” he said.

Shih also announced that his successor will arrive in Kingstown on Sept. 12.

“It is my sincere hope that you can accord him the same level of assistance and support as you have so graciously afforded me. In closing, I wish the continued prosperity of our country and the everlasting friendship between our two peoples,” Shih said at the reception.

Friends in high places

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sen. Camillo Gonsalves, presents a gift to Ambassador Shih. (IWN photo)
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sen. Camillo Gonsalves, presents a gift to Ambassador Shih. (IWN photo)

 

(In photos:  Farewell reception for H.E. Ambassador Weber Shih)

The reception also heard remarks from Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sen. Camillo Gonsalves.

“As much as we are sad to see the ambassador go, we know that he is going to get a promotion and it is always good to have friends in high places,” Sen. Gonsalves said.

He noted that one of the first acts of independent SVG in foreign affairs was to establish diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Sen. Gonsalves noted that then Prime Minister Robert Milton Cato opted to recognised Taipei rather than Beijing, which considers Taiwan a renegade province to be reunited with the mainland by force if necessary.

The Sir James Mitchell, Arnhim Eustace (now Opposition Leader), and Ralph Gonsalves administrations built upon that relationship, Sen. Gonsalves said.

Sir James, Eustace, and Gonsalves attended the function, one of the rare occasions when all three surviving prime minister are present at a single event.

“So, again, only Taiwan can bring them out together, only Taiwan can get them to sit on the same side of the table, and only Taiwan can have them agreeing on one consistent policy over 30 years,” Sen. Gonsalves said.

He said the relationship with Taiwan has proven to be one of the pillars of SVG’s foreign policy and one of the corner stones of our national development.

“Taiwan has touched the fabric of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in a number of ways, and it is impossible for me to list all of the ways.

“But we know that we have friends and family who have gone away on scholarship because of Taiwan, who now speak Mandarin because of Taiwan, who have visited learning resource centres because of Taiwan, who have used tissue cultures on their farms because of Taiwan, who will soon be landing at an international airport at Argyle because of Taiwan, and who enjoy the occasional sweet wax apple because of Taiwan,” the foreign secretary said.

“I think that of all the ambassadors — and it’s not to compare them — Ambassador Weber Shih has understood the islandness of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to a very great extent.

“He himself is obviously from an island, and he has understood the rhythm at which Caribbean countries do business. He has understood our constraints, and he has understood our aspirations, and he has been truly a friend to St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Sen. Gonsalves said.

Memories of underdevelopment 

Sen. Gonsalves said that while Taiwan is now a developed country, it still has vivid memories of when it was developing nation and required the assistance of other nations to develop.

“And it is that recent memory of their own developmental struggles that informs their friendship and solidarity with St. Vincent and the Grenadines today, because they have recently trod the road that we now trod.

“And in that friendship, in that exchange, it has not been a one-way street. St. Vincent and the Grenadines, at every opportunity, has accepted the role of champion of Taiwan’s interest and causes in a number of international fora that Taiwan is unjustly excluded from.”

Sen. Gonsalves pledged Kingstown’s continued solidarity and advocacy for Taiwan, and expressed confidence that Taipei will continue in its own support of the developmental aspirations of SVG.

“Because, although it is said in international relations there are no permanent friends, only permanent interest, we think we have discovered today a very obvious exception to that rule, because Taiwan is indeed our permanent friend, and I hope that our friendship continues to grow.

“Ambassador Weber Shih, I am truly sorry to see you go. You have served your nation and our nation with distinction. It has been an honour to have you in our shores and we look forward to meeting you as you are elevated to your new position and I know you will continue to work on behalf of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Sen. Gonsalves said.

A loving & respectful relationship

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace said Taiwan and SVG have a loving and respectful relationship. (IWN photo)
Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace said Taiwan and SVG have a loving and respectful relationship. (IWN photo)

Eustace said the relationship with Taiwan is “always there, always honoured, always respected.

“I often say to my friends that it is very difficult to speak about Taiwan. It is also very easy to speak about Taiwan. Therefore, when you have to deliver any speech of any length, one has a quandary. You can’t criticised, because Taiwan has been very good to us, and we in turn, small as we are, have been very good to them also.

“But the reality is that we have a loving relationship, a respectful relationship that often goes beyond the boundaries of simple diplomacy and democracy. It is a very special relationship, which we do not find in many of our other diplomatic relationships, because it goes beyond diplomacy. It has become part of us as Vincentians and Taiwanese, as citizens of the world, as human beings who share common interest and a common democracy,” Eustace said.

He said the contribution of Taiwan to the economic, social, and political development of SVG cannot be doubted.

“And I am extremely grateful to the ambassadors that have come one after the other here to St. Vincent and the Grenadines to represent Taiwan. And Ambassador Shih is no exception to the rule, and I want to compliment him in that regard.”

Incomparable relationship

Eustace said he was confident that Kingstown-Taipei ties will blossom even further given Shih’s new post as head of TaiwanICDF.

“He is not one of those ambassadors who we may not hear about or see again. I am sure that at least we will hear from him in his new capacity and I am looking forward to that, Ambassador,” Eustace said and congratulated the ambassador on his new appointment.

“We live today in some very difficult times and one cannot gainsay in anyway the fact that Taiwan has played a major role in our development as we try to chart and go through the rough seas of today’s world. I try to imagine what it would have been like if we did not have benefits and support from Taiwan and countries outside of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“For me, I am speaking very frankly here, there is no other relationship we’ve had that can match the one we have with Taiwan. This is no insult to any other country, it is a reality that we live; it is a reality that we face day after day. All of us know it, all of us appreciate it, and we say to you, Ambassador and to your country, thank you very much, and we look forward to hearing from you in your new capacity and may God go with you as you move back to Taiwan,” Eustace said.

Prime ministerial influence

Sir James Mitchell said he was was instrumental in the re-establishment of Castries-Taipei ties. (IWN photo)
Sir James Mitchell said he was was instrumental in the re-establishment of Castries-Taipei ties. (IWN photo)

Sir James told the reception that when his New Democratic Party was elected to office in 1984, his orientation then was to recognise China rather than Taiwan.

He said he was influenced by then prime minister of St. Lucia, John Compton, to recognise Taipei.

“He influenced me to make that decision and I don’t regret it,” Sir James said.

The retired politician said Taiwan has not always gotten it right, adding that their rice and shrimp experiments in SVG failed.

He further said that in 2006, when Sir John was re-elected to office, he encouraged the now deceased leader to switch ties back to Taipei.

“I said, ‘Remember, you the one who pushed me to Taiwan. I am now repaying the favour.’ I am carrying you back to Taiwan. And so it was, St. Lucia became again a country recognising Taiwan,” Sir James said, adding that other Caribbean leaders were working to get Castries to maintain ties with Beijing.

Profound gratitude

Guests at the reception. Speakers said the relationship between Taipei and Kingstown is now at the people-to-people level. (IWN photo)
Guests at the reception. Speakers said the relationship between Taipei and Kingstown is now at the people-to-people level. (IWN photo)

And, Prime Minister Gonsalves told the gathering that he wanted “at the outset to put on record our profound gratitude, our thanks, to His Excellency Weber Shih for his immense contribution to our country’s development and to the strengthening of the relations between St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Republic of China (Taiwan)

“It I important for us to say thanks and to show gratitude always,” Gonsalves said.

He noted Taiwan’s contribution to infrastructural development in SVG, including roads, bridges, the Union Island Airport, the Vegetable Market in Kingstown, and Argyle International Airport.

“But among the more profound manifestations of our very strong links of solidarity is the people-to-people links,” Gonsalves said.

“For generations to come, the farmers across this country will speak of Taiwan’s contribution to our farming. They (Taiwanese) do not always get it right, they don’t pretend to be perfect, the got rice wrong, but they got pineapples quite right, they got the tissue culture for a wide range of commodities, including bananas and several root crops, and they got wax apple right,” Gonsalves said.

Gonsalves said half a dozen Vincentian farmers recently went to Taiwan to look at farming technique there, and noted that about 50 Vincentians are students in the Asian nation, while about 30, most of whom speak Mandarin Chinese, have already graduated.

“This people-to-people relationship is what is going to live in the hearts and mind of the families and the country as a whole,” he said.

Gonsalves, who has ministerial responsibility for economic affairs, said Taiwan is the 27th largest economy in the world, but added that in the 1950s, Taiwan was “an undeveloped, backward, agricultural country.

“It is now high-tech, and it has been done because of knowledge, and that is why it is so important that when we work with a country like Taiwan we learn important lessons from the relationship,” he said.

“Ambassador, you have been a good friend to us. And your recent acts of friendship after the December natural disaster is one, which will remain with us always,” Gonsalves said, in reference to Taiwan’s assistance after the Christmas eve trough system which left 9 persons dead, three missing, and EC$330 million (17 per cent of GDP) in loss and damage.

3 replies on “Taiwan envoy’s tour of duty ends; ‘special mission’ in SVG completed ”

  1. Steve Huggins says:

    I wish to add my appreciation and thanks to the Nationalist State of of Free China, FORMOSA-CHINA for all the gracious help and assistance that they have so generously rendered to the Government and PEOPLE of my beloved homeland, the independent State of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

    SVG’s difficult journey since NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE on October 27, 1979 would have been made much more bearable by the regular and ready multi-faceted assistance given to us by TAIWAN. The ROBERT MILTON CATO SVLP administration was very far-sighted in its fervent, passionate decision to gladly restablish FULL DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH NATIONALIST CHINA on TAIWAN. Despite the vociferous, strident criticisms, opposition and political calumny of the local communist party YOULIMO and its ‘successor’ UNITED PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT [UPM].

    OUR First PRIME MINISTER R. Milton CATO was absolutely convinced and persuaded of the rightness and justness of his decision to FULLY RECOGNISE AND DEVELOP FRIENDLY RELATIONS WITH THE GOVERNMENT AND PEOPLE OF TAIWAN. His ST.VINCENT LABOUR PARTY colleagues in Cabinet, then, were also four-square with himm in this. Despite the rabid castigations of the then MARXIST-LENINIST doctrinaire ideologues and subversive COMMUNISTIC advocates. The CATO SVG-LP ADMINISTRATION was totalled undeterred and firmly resolute. That foresight and loyalty has paid off in the three decades since.

    There were some early Vincentian links with the Chinese peoples. Besides the obvious travelling and immigration contacts with many Chinese in Trinidad, England, Jamaica and Guyana, some groups of so-called ‘PORTUGUESE’ families arriving to settle in St. Vincent had had previous close contacts for some considerable time with essentially southern Chinese nationals [Cantonese, Haka Hans…] in Panama, some of whom had even had short experiences living in North America, Guyana and Brazil.

    Some stereotyped “EAST INDIANS” coming to the British West Indies, DEMERARA, ESSEQUIBO, or SURINAM, had had some yet earlier contact with at least one of the so-called HUI CHI ‘Chinese’ tribal groupings. [A similarly deja vu occurence was the not-so-ancient links between the would-be Indonesian/Javanese peoples who later migrated to the Guinanas AND the “East Indians” who had already migrated there.

    Later, nearer our times, a paltry few SVG persons had intermarried with the Chinese race, IN THE CARIBBEAN. I cite the FORDS, CORDICE …

    Then, with the advent of political-constitutional independence whereby we were enabled to establish our own responsible foreign relations, the CATO SVLP chose wisely.

    Ironically, though, the undercurrent diplomatic issue may eventually become moot.

    About early 1970s, it was shockingly noticed that the NATIONALIST CHINESE-TAIWANESE ECONOMY was NINE TIMES THAT OF THE WHOLE OF COMMUNIST CHINA ensconsed on the mainland since around 1949. MAOIST ‘Chinese” COMMUNISM HAD FAILED ABYSMALLY. There were considerable rumblings in the CHINESE MILITARY as a result of this continued impoverishment, resulting from the COMMUNIST PARTY OF CHINA’s ‘purer’ COMMUNIST POLICIES AND PRACTICES. The publicly obvious ideological INSANITY OF MAO TSE TUNG [aka Mao Zedong] was further complicating the situation even more. The constant Communist party purges, murderous ‘scientific socialist’ collectivisations, genocidal ‘Great Leap Forward’, indoctrinated RED GUARD ‘cleansings’, and the holocaust of the mad ‘Great Cultural Revolution’ HAD NEAR-TOTALLY DESTROYED THE COUNTRY.

    With its then approximate BILLION population, COMMUNIST CHINA was being OUTPRODUCED, OUTMANUFACTURED, AND OUTTRADED by comparatively little TAIWAN.

    TAIWAN’s ECONOMY WAS NOW NINE TIMES THE SIZE OF MAINLAND COMMUNIST CHINA’s.

    A great lesson in THE UTTER FAILURE OF THE DEMONIC COMMUNIST IDEOLOGY.

    Private entrepreneurship, private enterprise, FREE MARKETS trump “marxism-leninism” any day.

    So, deputy leader Chou En-Lai AT GREAT RISK TO HIS OWN HEAD sought to gradually, strategically rehabilitate DUNG TSIA PING from the jail and ‘house arrest’ to which Mao tse Tung had consigned him. The situation had become so precarious that Mao had to allow Chou eventually bring Dung to the fore, again. With the active approval of the increasingly restive military. The hold of the Communist party was now precarious. Would the military cease all power?

    Dung Tsao Ping gradually introduced freer policies, ‘capitalistic’ measures and tentatively encouraged free enterprise. Some lands to returned to a few peasants in an experimental area. Production dramatically increased there. More lands were apportioned out to even more farmers, and an even more pronounce improvement was noticeable. From there, the Communist regime of China has increasingly sought to private much of agriculture and the rest of the economy. Today’s burgeoning economy is the practical, obvious result.

    Free enterprises pays. Private entrepreneurship works. Capitalist policies trump COMMUNIST, ‘SOCIALIST ORIENTATION’, MARXIST-LENINIST, SCIENTIFIC SOCIALIST, INTERNATIONAL [read RUSSIAN ‘soviet’] SOCIALIST POLICIES.

    Communist policies have FAILED IN COMMUNIST CHINA. They now have which even they [and Communist advocate Ralph] would have called A DEFORMED CAPITALIST ECONOMY.

    Communist policies FAILED IN THE SOVIET UNION [COMMUNIST RUSSIA], and Russia had to go CAP IN HAND to the FREE MARKETS OF EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA for help and economic assistance to even survive.

    WHILE relatively “small” TAIWAN, the free-market/private enterprise Nationalist Government on the island of Formosa, FREE CHINA – – – PROSPERED TREMENDOUSLY, UNBELIEVABLY, moving out of the ranks of the THIRD WORLD nations.

    For decades now, my fellow Vincentians have been marvelously benefitting from TAIWAN’s FABULOUS LARGESSE in myriad areas.

    In the interest of transparency, I have been involved in the past of writing recommendatiions on behalf of my students, particularly at the SECONDARY SCHOOL level who were applying for and have since gratefully benefitted from ‘EXHIBITIONS’, SCHOLARSHIPS, or economic assistance from the embassy of the Government of Taiwan in St. Vincent.

    Again, I was an avid reader and subscriber for many years in St, Vincent to THE FREE CHINA REVIEW magazine. I was keenly interested in the freedom fighter CHINESE nationals in Table Tennis who were brutalized and martyred by insane MAOIST REGIME, but which remnant group were opportunistically trotted out to welcom US PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON’s “Ping Pong” diplomacy initiative, circa 1971. I was still, regardless, years after, interested in learning or re-studying Table Tennis the modern Chinese way, and believe that I did early o’clock apply to understudy Table Tennis coaching on Formosa.

    Interestingly, I wore a cue, “Chinese pigtail”, the first six or seven years of my life. My dearly beloved uncle, the then head of my extended family, was CHINESE. I only cut my “locks”, for the very FIRST time, when my maternal grand-father persuaded me that the guys at Georgetown Primary School would give me no end of horrors in teasing – – – if I continued with it for any longer. Indeed, one of my brothers was authoritatively pronounced a “China-man” on being first viewed while a new-born by yet another uncle. I dabbled a bit in Cantonese . . . and the dialects of the Haka-Hans, though I have more recently relented to sample Mandarin as well.

    The ancient Chinese records claim a famous black man as their very first King. Chew pan dat.

    Thank you, TAIWAN.

    I wont cover the irony of some of the more recent changes in “Nationalist CHINA”. Nor the extent of Taiwan’s massive investments in Communist party-ruled mainly China, among other international locales. Nor the morphing military and diplomatic milieux.

    Nor Ralph’s Gonsalves’ early political melt-down in essentially “cussing” Dr. Neville Duncan FOR HAVING GUSHING FAVOURABLE THINGS TO SAY ABOUT HIS VERY FIRST VISIT TO THE MARXIST-LENINIST NIRVANA OF COMMUNIST CHINA sometime back. Now Comrade finding it hard to break with Taiwan, or march lock-step into the CHI-COM camp with his erswhile RUSSIAN-SOVIETIST rabid, fanatic haters of CHINESE COMMUNISM. The West Indian copy-cat finds himself between the devil and the deep blue sea, on this one. The Caribbean BASKET-CASE OF THE RACOST SLAVE STATE OF COMMUNIST PARTY CUBA is having to ironically go CAP IN HAND to the Communist Chinese to replace and/or suppliment the BEGGARLY HAND-OUTS from ‘chavista’ Venezuela.

    Again, my appreciation to the people and Government of China on Taiwan. Things WILL change drastically, IN SVG, in TAIWAN, in mainland/continental China, in Asia, and in the presently most successful and laudable SVG-TAIWAN diplomatic and other relations. The current dispensation, my Vincentian and Chinese brethren all, are but a brief era of success and peace in a rapidly re-aligning geo-political structure.

    Come what may, Taiwan, WE LOVE YOU – – – and THANKS.

    My mom’s favourite, among others: “Che sara, sara . . . WHATEVER WILL BE, WILL BE . . .

  2. How mean you all are excluding our friend from the Green Party, you know he has a love hate relationship with the Taiwanese,.

    […]

  3. james the lion monroe says:

    I’m glad he’s gone,but another blood sucker will take his place. They give us a little and take a hell of a lot from the svg commonity. That’s why i like the green party. They tell us the truth, but most vincies are not listening.

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