Ambassador Minute Alapati Taupo Featured in Monocle, a London-Based Magazine/倫敦雜誌《Monocle》刊登有關陶敏德大使的焦點新聞報導 / by Minute Taupo

An article entitled “The Ties That Bind” was recently published in the October 2014 issue of the Monocle, an international magazine based in London. The article discusses Taiwan’s relations with Pacific island countries and features Tuvaluan Ambassador Minute Alapati Taupo and Kiribati Ambassador Teekoa Iuta. Text from the Monocle article that is pertinent to Tuvalu is included below:

以倫敦為據點之全球性雜誌《Monocle》於其2014年10月號刊登標題為「The Ties That Bind」之焦點新聞報導。這篇文章探討台灣與太平洋島嶼國家之間的外交關係,並以吐瓦魯大使陶敏德與吉里巴斯大使游黛姤為例,深入分析台灣外交策略。該文章中有關吐瓦魯之內容節錄如下:

        "For Minute Alapati Taupo to reach his new posting as Tuvalu’s ambassador to Taiwan, he had to embark on an epic journey across the Pacific Ocean. Just two flights a week leave his small, isolated country of 10,000 people, landing in the Fijian capital of Suva. From there it’s another short hop to Nadi, Fiji’s main international hub, and then either Seoul, Hong Kong or Brisbane, before finally flying on to Taipei. It may have been a long way but it was worth it, says Taupo.

        Despite the travel hassles and logistical hurdles, Tuvalu had no qualms about opening an embassy in the mini-UN high rise in the Taipei suburbs that houses most of Taiwan’s 22 allies. It’s one of only a few foreign missions for the low-lying smattering of small islands and coral atolls. 'Our Tuvalu people have been loyal to this country ever since we became friends,' Taupo says in a rather corporate-looking office that’s been brightened with traditional Tuvaluan weavings, shell necklaces and a miniature wooden canoe.

        It certainly helps that Taiwan provides a cash grant to Tuvalu every year to spend on development projects—pre-approved by both governments—without a lot of red tape, Taupo says. 'Our mandate here is to make sure we continue the strengthening of our bilateral ties,' he says. 'We like Taiwan.' What’s not to like? Tuvalu is Taiwan’s oldest ally in the Pacific—diplomatic relations date back to shortly after Tuvalu’s independence from Britain in 1978—and benefited mightily during the heady 'chequebook diplomacy' days when Taiwan and China paid handsomely to woo some of the world’s least developed states away from one another in a battle over diplomatic recognition.

        In recent years, however, a calm has fallen over the South Pacific. In an effort to improve cross-Strait relations, Taiwan and China have abided by a diplomatic truce since 2008 and stopped pinching each other’s allies, even when they seek to jump sides. (Gambia tried to swing from Taiwan to China last November but Beijing coolly rejected its advances.) Apart from Australia and New Zealand, the Pacific is now evenly split, with six UN member island nations on each side. A few countries, such as Fiji, are even cosying up to both. Although Fiji recognizes Beijing, it’s also on good terms with Taipei thanks to the ample funding it receives for medical and agricultural projects.

        The détente has brought China and Taiwan closer economically but ironically, neither side has stopped writing cheques in the Pacific. No longer consumed by Taiwan’s diplomatic manoeuvrings, Beijing is thinking big: it’s offering hefty concessionary loans—including a recent package worth €750 m—and building massive infrastructure projects in the Pacific to establish itself as a dominant regional power, much to the concern of the US and Australia."    

         "And both [Kiribati Ambassador Teekoa] Iuta and Taupo say Taipei has also been a leader on climate change—a grave concern for both vulnerable nations. Although Taiwan’s diplomatic isolation prevents it from sitting on international climate-change panels, it has provided €3.5 m since 2010 to install nearly 50,000 solar lamps and street lights in the Pacific as part of a clean-energy drive. And Bozzato says a Taiwanese official has mooted the possibility of taking in environmental refugees or building artificial islands for the most threatened countries. Kevin CK Wang, a Taiwan minister on home assignment, got a first-hand glimpse of the problem as the former charges d’affaires to Tuvalu, one of few foreign diplomats in the country. 'We don’t need the scientific evidence, we can use our eyes to see the sea level is rising, sometimes in front of my door,' he says. Such acknowledgments are encouraging, says Taupo, and not something he would expect from China, nor many other large nations for that matter."