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Cablegate: Taiwan Foreign Minister Francisco Ou: A Profile

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DE RUEHIN #0758/01 1550530
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O 030530Z JUN 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9056
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8321
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 9625
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 9962
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 2708
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 1277
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9562
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 2093
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 6676
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHHJJAA/JICPAC HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 000758

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR TW
SUBJECT: TAIWAN FOREIGN MINISTER FRANCISCO OU: A PROFILE

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) Summary: Taiwan's new Foreign Minister Francisco H.
L. Ou (Hung-lien) is a strong proponent of President Ma
Ying-jeou's proposal to "call a diplomatic truce" with
Beijing over competition for recognition from small countries
in the Americas, South Pacific, and Africa. A distinguished
career diplomat whose most recent assignment was Ambassador
to Guatemala (2003-2008), Ou brings extensive experience in
Latin American affairs to the Ma administration. He has
spent the majority of his career serving in the region, the
location of 12 of the 23 countries that maintain diplomatic
relations with Taipei. Ou enjoys a long history of close
ties to top KMT leaders, and Taichung Mayor Jason Hu, a
former foreign minister, reportedly strongly backed Ou for
his new assignment. End Summary.

Why Ou?
-------

2. (SBU) Francisco Ou has a distinguished record as a Taiwan
career diplomat. After joining Taiwan's foreign service in
1964, he attained fluency in Spanish and subsequently served
in the Foreign Ministry, five different countries in South
and Central America, and as Taiwan's representative to Spain
(2000-2003). Ou has cultivated warm personal relations with
the leaders in some countries where he has served, and his
skill and effectiveness as a diplomat is credited with saving
some of Taiwan's diplomatic relationships. His experience
and expertise on Latin America will be an important asset to
the new administration as it works to retain ties with
Taiwan's 23 remaining diplomatic partners, 12 of which are
concentrated in the region.

3. (SBU) Early in his career, Ou caught the eye of top KMT
leaders while serving as Spanish language interpreter for
late Presidents Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo. Chiang
Ching-kuo was so impressed that he had the Foreign Ministry
set up a second Director General position specially for Ou in
the Department of Central and South American Affairs. Ou was
a classmate of Vincent Siew at National Chengchi University
and he has worked both with Siew and Ma Ying-jeou in the
past. Ou has close relations with Taichung Mayor Jason Hu, a
former foreign minister. Once, when Ou was medevaced back to
Taipei after having been felled by hepatitis while working
too hard at his post in Central America, Hu went specially to
the airport to receive the ailing diplomat. Reportedly, Hu
strongly recommended Ou for the foreign minister position.
Some have suggested that Ou's Hakka ethnicity may have also
factored into his appointment as Ma sought to diversify the
ethnic makeup of his cabinet.

A New Foreign Policy Path
-------------------------

4. (SBU) In line with Ma's foreign policy platform, Ou has
said Taiwan should end its past reliance on "checkbook
diplomacy" as a means of securing diplomatic allies. Rather,
Taiwan should seek to enhance its profile on the
international stage through meaningful participation in
international organizations and by strengthening informal
relations with important partners such as the U.S. While
downplaying the potential for further attrition of Taiwan's
diplomatic partners, Ou has rejected the idea that Taiwan
must maintain a certain minimum number of formal diplomatic
ties and argued that the competition for recognition has
contributed to cross-Strait tension.

5. (SBU) Ou has repeatedly made the case that Taiwan and
China should pursue a "diplomatic truce" to limit the waste
of financial and other resources and minimize the ability of
third countries to exploit the Taipei-Beijing rivalry for
their own gain. However, Ou has cautioned that effective
cooperation between the two sides is predicated on Beijing's
willingness to allow Taiwan more international space.
According to Ou, dignity and pragmatism remain the key
principles for upholding national interests.

6. (SBU) Although he has pledged to move away from using

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"checkbook diplomacy" to "buy" new diplomatic recognitions,
Ou has made clear that Taiwan will continue to provide aid to
its existing less developed diplomatic allies. Ou has argued
that such aid is justified, fulfilling the responsibility
that more developed countries have to assist developing
countries. In addition, Ou contends that Taiwan should
demonstrate a certain degree of reciprocity to express
gratitude to allies that have continued to provide vocal
support for Taiwan in the international community,

Biographic Data
---------------

5. (U) Present Position: Minister of Foreign Affairs, May
2008-present.

6. (U) Previous Positions: Ambassador of the Republic of
China to Guatemala, 2003-2008; Representative, Taipei
Economic and Cultural Office in Spain, 2000-2003; Vice
Minister of Foreign Affairs, 1996-2000; Ambassador of the
Republic of China to Guatemala, 1990-1996; Director, Taiwan
Commercial Office in Argentina, 1986-1990; Ambassador of the
Republic of China to Nicaragua, 1984-1985; Director General,
Department of Central and South American Affairs, MOFA,
1981-1984; Director, Far East Commercial Office in Santiago,
Chile, 1975-1981; Deputy Director General, Department of
Central and South American Affairs, MOFA, 1973-1975; Section
Chief, Department of Central and South American Affairs,
MOFA, 1971-1973; Second Secretary, Embassy of the Republic of
China in Peru, 1971; Third Secretary, Embassy of the Republic
of China in Peru, 1967-1971; Officer, Department of Central
and South American Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
1964-1967.

7. (U) Education: B.A., Department of Diplomacy, National
Chengchi University, Taiwan, 1962.

8. (U) DPOB: January 5, 1940, Hualien County, Taiwan.
Language proficiencies: Spanish, fluent; English, highly
proficient.
WANG

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