Taiwan not welcome at Canada Day events

The Empire State Building is lit in Red & White in honor of Canada Day July 1, 2014 in New York.

TAIPEI- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday expressed regret over a foreign media report that said Taiwan has been put on a list of countries unwelcome at Canada Day events organised by the Canadian government because the North American country does not recognise the R.O.C. as a sovereign state.

"The ministry found the comments about Taiwan in the report deeply regrettable," MOFA spokesperson Anna Kao (高安) told local media yesterday.

Kao made the comments in response to the report released by the Canadian Press on June 29 that said Taiwan is among the unwelcome countries the Canadian foreign ministry lists annually for its national day celebration events.

According to the report, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development circulates a "persona non grata" list in June each year, warning its overseas missions to bar these countries from attending local events marking Canada Day, which falls on July 1.

North Korea, Fiji, Belarus, Iran, Syria, Guinea-Bissau and Madagascar were the countries on last year's list, largely because of Canada's disapproval of unelected or "badly behaved" governments, the Canadian Press said.

Taiwan is also on the list this year, though only because Canada does not recognise the nation as a state rather than any disapproval of its government, the news agency said.

Canada, like most countries in the world, supports the "One-China policy" that recognises Beijing instead of Taipei.

The Canadian Press said that the department has refused to release its list this year, but it added that there were unlikely to be any changes from last year, with the possible inclusion of Russia for the first time.

The Canadian Press said that it asked the department to comment on the list and a spokesperson replied that "It is not our practice to provide lists of country representatives invited or not invited to functions held at our missions abroad."

Close Taiwan-Canada Ties

In response, Kao yesterday stressed that the Canadian government has never made the so-called unwelcome list public.

Also, it was the Canadian Press, not the Canadian authorities, that termed it the "persona non grata" list.

Kao said the relationship between Taiwan and Canada has been growing closer than ever over the past years, as shown by the signing of the reciprocal working holiday agreement in April 2010, the inclusion of Taiwan in Canada's visa waiver programme in November of that year and the signing of an agreement expanding the number of direct flights between the countries in November last year.

Meanwhile, the Canadian representative office in Taipei was unavailable for comment yesterday because it was closed for Canada Day.