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A New Agenda For New Zealand/Taiwan Relations

17 April 2001

A NEW AGENDA FOR NEW ZEALAND/TAIWAN RELATIONS

United Future leader, Hon Peter Dunne, is calling for a new agenda for relations between Taiwan and New Zealand.

Mr Dunne, who last week led a delegation of New Zealand MPs to Taiwan for discussions with Taiwan's Premier and Foreign Minister, was speaking today to the Wellington Central Rotary Club.

"New Zealand/Taiwan relations have suffered in recent years because of timidity bordering on abject cowardice from our Ministry of Foreign Affairs that is pathologically scared stiff of doing anything to upset mainland China."

"Even discussions between Foreign Affairs and Taiwanese representatives in New Zealand are routinely reported to the Chinese."

"The same gutless approach exists at the Parliamentary level - Parliament will not allow the existence of Taiwan and Tibet Parliamentary Friendship groups to be listed on its website alongside other friendship groups for fear of upsetting the Chinese."

"As a result of silly pettiness like this, we have more limited relations with Taiwan than do Canada and Australia, yet both follow the same One China policy we do."

"It is time we changed our approach to work more closely with democratic Taiwan, rather than continuing to sycophantically fall into line every time totalitarian China clicks its little finger," Mr Dunne said.

Mr Dunne called for a new agenda for Taiwan/New Zealand relations based around the following points:

* Annual New Zealand Ministerial visits to Taiwan. (Canada and Australia already do this, but New Zealand restricts its Ministerial visits to one every three years, and only in portfolio areas related to our bilateral economic relationship.)

* Reciprocal visits to New Zealand by Taiwanese Ministers to be permitted for a full range of bilateral discussions. (Taiwan's Foreign Minister recently visited Australia and was able to hold discussions with political and business leaders.)

* Regular exchanges of visits between the New Zealand Parliament and Taiwan's Legislative Yuan. (Presently only unofficial New Zealand Parliamentary delegations go to Taiwan as full guests of the Taiwan Government. Last week's delegation was the first in approximately two years to visit Taiwan. There is no arrangement in place for reciprocal visits by Taiwanese MPs.)

* New Zealand to support Taiwan's inclusion in international organisations and agreements, such as the World Trade Organisation and ultimately the United Nations.

* New Zealand and Taiwan to commence bilateral discussions with a view to negotiating a stand alone New Zealand/Taiwan Free Trade Agreement, similar to the recently concluded Closer Economic Relations Partnership Agreement with Singapore.

Ends

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