Former Foreign Minister
Date of Birth: 05/01/1940
Place of Birth: Hsinchu
Francisco Ou became Taiwan's
Foreign Minister on 20 May 2008, as the Kuomintang (Chinese
Nationalist Party, KMT), in opposition for eight years, returned
to executive power on the back of Ma Ying-jeou's promises
of improved ties with China (AAC Vol 1 No 5).
Optimists saw progress in the 12-13 June 2008 talks between
the two sides. The rivals signed agreements to open direct passenger
flights across the Taiwan Strait and to increase Chinese tourism
to Taiwan. So on the back burner, for now, appear to be the 'dollar
diplomacy' battles that Taiwan has fought, and largely lost, for
Ou is a career diplomat with long experience in Latin America,
one of Taiwan's main battlegrounds for recognition. He has seen
postings in Peru, Nicaragua, Argentina and
most recently Guatemala. During this time, he served strongman
Chiang Ching-kuo, Chiang Kai-shek's son, and each
of Taiwan's three elected Presidents.
Ou pledged to strengthen ties with existing allies rather
than pursue new ones. Yet Taiwan's renewed discussions with China
are handled by semi-official organisations dedicated to cross-strait
relations. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not involved.
In his first month in office, Ou faced charges of disloyalty to
Taiwan after oppositionists discovered he had obtained permanent
residency in the United States while he was ambassador
to Guatemala. (The green card was relinquished before he took
office.) Then relations with Japan took a hit: on 10 June,
a Japanese Coast Guard patrol collided with and sunk a Taiwanese
fishing boat off the Senkaku islands. The uninhabited islands
abound with mineral resources and are claimed by Japan,
China and Taiwan. Ou recalled Taiwan's Tokyo representative in
Ou resigned from his post on September 10, 2009 following a government reshuffle.