April 12, 2013

Taiwanese call for end to Green Party attacks

Officials from the embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) here, are calling for the end to “an erroneous and groundless” attack on their country, by a local political party.{{more}}

Speaking exclusively to SEARCHLIGHT, the official pointed out that statements made by the party, in newspaper and television commercials are untrue, and the Embassy, in a press release, sought to shed light on the facts.

“We just wanted to clarify all the truth; to [say] all the statements he made were incorrect and not true,” the official told SEARCHLIGHT.

“We just want to tell Vincentians what the truth is. He is saying total nonsense.”

The SVG Green Party has been airing a series of commercials on SVG TV, for the past four months or so, in which party leader Ivan O’neal, in one of the advertisements, calls Taiwan a “leech on our economy”, and says that when the Green Party comes into power, it will “take back the fish industry from Taiwan, and operate this billion dollar fish and canning industry ourselves”.

The release from the Embassy refutes these allegations, stating that all marine activities conducted by Taiwan are done under local and international regulations, and they do not operate in this country’s economic zone.

“When it comes to the issue of fishing, like the fishing vessels of other countries such as Korea, Japan, etc., Taiwanese vessels register in St Vincent and the Grenadines under the High Seas Fishing Act 2001.

“They abide by regulations and pay license fees and security bonds or deposits according to the High Seas Fishing Regulations 2003. Above all, they only operate on the high seas, in accordance with the regulations of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), and never fish in Vincentian waters.”

The release also stated that Taiwan does not receive preferential treatment, from the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines, but is afforded the same entitlements as any other country with diplomatic relations.

“According to the Article 34 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which states that a diplomatic agent shall be exempt from all duties and taxes.

“In addition, there are bilateral cooperation projects funded by Taiwan, in the areas of agriculture, information and communication technology (ICT), among others. To facilitate the implementation of those projects, they are granted exemption from customs duties and taxes and other charges on all imported equipment, materials and supplies, based on the related bilateral agreements between the governments of the two countries.”

The official told SEARCHLIGHT that these issues had been discussed before, by former ambassador Jack Chen, but the party leader continues to twist the truth.

The official said that the Embassy is at a loss for the reason for the continued criticism.

“Why attack Taiwan? I don’t understand why we are the target… I don’t know why he insists on telling people these rumours. We just want him to stop all this nonsense,” the official said.

SEARCHLIGHT spoke with Ivan O’Neal, leader of the SVG Green Party on Wednesday.

O’Neal said that he has never accused Taiwan of fishing in Vincentian waters, but stated instead that they do not have Vincentian observers on their ships, while registered under St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“The other thing, why are their boats registered with an offshore company?” O’Neal asked.

“They are allowed to fish in the Atlantic Ocean on our fish license… they are using our fish license for deep sea fishing in the Atlantic Ocean, and they should have observers on their ship, but they are registered as offshore companies. We can’t catch them to pay tax.”

O’Neal, who said that he got his information from the Internet, told SEARCHLIGHT that he would have more to say on the matter, after he meets with his committee.

The Republic of China (Taiwan) and St Vincent and the Grenadines established diplomatic relations in 1981.(JJ)