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Thank you for allowing me a space to express our views on Mr SS Mdluli’s letter ‘Let’s leave Taiwan’ in your newspaper of November 21, 2013. While I respect Mr Mdluli’s right to freedom of expression, it is regretful to see the Republic of China (Taiwan) be described in the letter as one of Swaziland’s ‘seemingly useless allies of the day’ and ‘an unrecognised territory”.

If Mr Mdluli were to visit Taiwan, this embassy is where a valid visa for the beautiful island country can be issued. Besides the twenty-two countries, including the Kingdom of Swaziland, that formally recognize the ROC, we in fact maintain pragmatic relationships with a lot of countries. Being a responsible stakeholder, we are ranked 16th by the size of economy on earth.

Since the Republic of China established diplomatic ties with the Kingdom of Swaziland in 1968, it has been a trusted and effective development partner to the kingdom with more than E5 billion contributed to areas of poverty reduction and national development. Hon. Majozi Sithole, the then-Minister of Finance, now Central Bank Governor, clearly indicated in his 2013/14 Budget Speech the appreciation for Taiwan’s support in rural electrification and water projects which would increase the access to potable water of rural residents from 69 per cent to 71 per cent this year, benefiting more than 36 000 people. Clearly, Taiwan has made a significant difference to the lives of common Swazi people.

Readers of Times of Swaziland are welcome to visit the Taiwan Medical Mission attached to the Mbabane Government Hospital, our Technical Mission in Matsapha or Vocational Training Mission in Ezulwini to witness first-hand the close cooperation and impressive achievements between our two countries.
Taiwan’s contribution to Swaziland’s development aspirations does not stop there.

We have funded the soon-to-be operational Sikhuphe International Airport’s terminal building, which is among the most modern and advanced airports in Africa. The ongoing construction of the Biotechnology Park, solely funded by the Taiwan government, indicates Taiwan’s determination to help Swaziland transform its economy. These are all critical for Swaziland to step into First World status.

Taiwanese textile companies in Matsapha currently employ around 15 000 Swazi workers, some of whose grievances about low salaries were addressed this year with a salary increment of 6.2 per cent. The complaint about salary level is common in any industry, in any country. However, it is usually a complicated issue encompassing several factors and can only be solved by all concerned parties to fathom out a reasonable way forward. 

The over four-decade record has proven that the Republic of China is a trustworthy partner in the kingdom’s national development endeavours. While we thank Their Majesties for supporting Taiwan internationally, we are committed to continuing to share our resources, knowledge and skills with the kingdom so that the vision of First World status will be realised soon.

Thomas JC Chen, Ambassador

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