A ruling party lawmaker has called on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to relocate more of its overseas offices to Southeast Asian countries instead of the United States as he thinks Taiwan already has too many representative offices in the U.S.
Citing statistics, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Lo Chih-cheng said Taiwan has a total of 13 representative offices on American soil among its 119 offices around the globe.
The number of representative offices in the U.S. is surprisingly high compared with the number of offices set up by other world powers, he noted.
Lo said South Korea has 13, France 10, the United Kingdom nine, Australia eight and mainland China only six.
He questioned whether it was necessary for Taiwan to have so many offices in the U.S. since most of the offices have few diplomatic functions other than offering consular service to overseas Taiwanese and ethnic Chinese.
With limited manpower, Lo said MOFA should consider relocating some of its offices in the U.S. to emerging markets in Southeast Asian countries and the Asia-Pacific and Africa regions.
Compared to those in the U.S, Lo said 60 percent of offices in the Asia-Pacific region and 47 percent in Africa are smaller offices with fewer than five staff.
He highlighted how Taiwan’s office in Vietnam focuses more on interviewing Vietnamese fiance(e)s who will be marrying Taiwanese husbands or wives than on doing diplomatic work locally.
The DPP lawmaker said interviewing the potential spouses of Taiwanese nationals should be the responsibility of the Immigration Bureau rather than MOFA.
Relocating manpower and overseas offices is especially important when the new DPP government has decided to shift its focus to countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with the launch of its “New Southbound Policy he added.
US Offices Important
Asked to comment, a diplomatic source told the Chinese-language Apple Daily that other major world powers have fewer representative offices in the U.S. because they have official diplomatic relations with the country.
In the lack of official diplomatic relations, the source said Taiwanese representative offices in U.S. have important missions to enhance closer ties with the U.S. through local channels and resources.
Each of the offices has to be responsible for the affairs of three to seven U.S. states or regions, and thus each office has a heavy responsibility already.
Source: China Post