TAIWAN: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (Taiwan), strongly criticized former Singaporean Minister of Foreign Affairs George Yeo (楊榮文) for his recent actions, which they perceive as acting as a “mouthpiece” for China and propagating Beijing’s agenda.
Yeo’s recent recommendations for Taiwan to consider joining a “commonwealth” with China and pursuing a “One China” path have drawn significant condemnation from Taiwan.
on Wednesday (13 Sep), George Yeo, Singapore’s former foreign minister, proposed the concept of a “Chinese Commonwealth” as a potential framework for future political integration between Taiwan and China.
Mr Yeo made this proposal during his speech at the Asia-Pacific Forward Forum in Taipei, emphasizing that the division between China and Taiwan exists primarily “at the political level; not at the cultural and civilizational level.”
The 68-year-old former PAP politician warned that the status quo across the Taiwan Strait may seem attractive but it is unsustainable, as it “only postpones the problem”, considering the relative strength of the PRC versus the US is shifting in the PRC’s favour.
Mr Yeo then proposed the idea of a “Chinese Commonwealth” as a potential arrangement to facilitate negotiations between both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
He explained that the specific details of this commonwealth could be discussed and refined during talks.
In another interview with This Week in Asia in August, Yeo downplayed the impact of the Taiwan presidential election on China-U.S. relations, describing Taiwan as just “one piece on the geopolitical chessboard”.
Additionally, he accused former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of exploiting Taiwan during her August 2022 visit and suggested that the Taiwanese government was not particularly receptive to her.
MOFA Taiwan denounces George Yeo’s controversial remarks
In a press release issued on Thursday (Sept. 14), MOFA of ROC Taiwan expressed deep disappointment with Yeo’s remarks about the Taiwan Strait and Taiwan-U.S. relations at the Asia-Pacific Forward Forum.
The ministry asserted that Yeo’s comments were “completely inconsistent with the facts, clearly biased, and at odds with the understanding of most democratic countries in the region.”
Furthermore, they contended that Yeo’s personal opinions not only fail to contribute to regional peace and stable development but also harm the positive development of Taiwan-U.S. relations and Taiwan-Singapore relations.
The ministry voiced its profound regret over Yeo’s comments and urged against becoming a conduit for China’s authoritarian agenda.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomes individuals from various countries to visit Taiwan and witness firsthand our unwavering commitment to safeguarding national sovereignty, as well as our efforts to defend democracy, freedom, human rights, and the rule of law. ”
“Additionally, we hope that foreign visitors invited to attend events in Taiwan will gain an accurate understanding of international and regional developments, demonstrate respect for the host country, and adhere to basic diplomatic etiquette. ”
“This is to prevent any perception of assisting the Chinese government in its propaganda efforts or making inappropriate statements that could lead to social divisions and misunderstandings in Taiwanese society, ” said the ministry in the statement.
George Yeo responds to ROC Foreign Ministry statement
Following the recent statement from Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Yeo turned to Facebook to convey his ‘surprise’ at the ministry’s response.
He asserted that his speech had been positively received by the audience, which notably included former President Ma Ying-jeou and former Vice President Vincent Siew.
“I have great affection for the land and people of Taiwan and meant well.”
Mr Yeo’s complete speech at the Asia-Pacific Forward Forum on Wednesday is available on his Facebook page: