The Taiwanese Minister of agriculture Chen Wu-Hsiung had to be content without an official reception from the Executive board when he visited the ESG/Alterra yesterday. Is this the 'China Syndrome' at work?
'Nonsense', says Executive board spokesman Simon Vink. He denies that there is any veto on official welcomes for senior Taiwanese officials. 'We would have liked to receive the Minister with all the appropriate formalities. We have numerous contacts with Taiwan and there are Taiwanese students here.' Vink puts it down to 'clumsiness' on the part of the organizers of the visit. 'Visits from ambassador level up are handled through the Executive board. That's what the protocol demands. If you invite people at this level, you should first sound out whether an appropriate reception can be arranged. And that certainly didn't happen. By the time we heard about the visit no board members were available.'
The ESG denies that they were too late with setting things in motion. 'The protocol was certainly followed. The invitation letter to the delegation was sent by the Executive board itself', responds Bert Harms, ESG's project manager for Asia. Harms says that the board was alerted in good time. But he puts it down to 'force majeure' rather than a deliberate choice due to sensitive relations with China.
The ESG has been working for a number of years with TARI, the Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute. Taiwan has similar problems to the Netherlands, explains researcher Römkens. 'The country is about the same size as this country, three quarters of its surface consists of mountains and on the remaining quarter there are 23 million Taiwanese and all the country's agriculture and industry. That causes problems with pollution and emissions.'
Every two years, a delegation of Taiwanese officials comes on a visit to maintain contacts. But both parties are cautiously seeking more than this. That is why the Taiwanese Minister of agriculture was with the delegation for the first time yesterday, to drum up support. This was emphasized by signing a 'letter of agreement' to stimulate the cooperation between TARI and the ESG.