The Presidential Years

MANDELA: Well this is Minister Chang from Taiwan as you are aware we have announced that at the end of next year we will sever diplomatic relations with Taiwan or the Republic of China. This is a matter that has created a great deal of shock and disappointment on the part of the President, the government and people of Taiwan. And I assured the Minister here that I fully understand that sense of shock and disappointment. But I went further to say I have agonized over this decision because I knew precisely what it would mean to the government and to people of that country but that there comes a time when a man, in the interests of his own country, has to take a decision which hurts very close friends and this decision has hurt them very badly indeed. But we had very good discussion with him because in spite of the decision that I’ve taken we are going to maintain relations on the highest level short of diplomatic relations. And I am sure that there is a will on our part, there is a will on the part of the government and the people of Taiwan to ensure that the good relations that we have established continue other than diplomatic relations and I thought that I should accompany Minister Chang to come and explain our position. I am sure you’d like to say something

CHANG: It is my great pleasure and honour to be given the opportunity [cut] to have a long talk and discussion with His Excellency for more than 40 minutes this morning about our future relationship after the change of the nature of the ties probably around the end of next year. And President Mandela has assured me and assured the government of the Republic of China that at the highest level arrangements will be done as a framework of our future relationship. And the talk will be continued between the two governments in the forthcoming 12 months and I think that the people and the government of the Republic of China understand the reasons behind the very very difficult and painful decision that President Mandela has made on the future ties with the Republic of China. And we appreciate the bilateral relationships existing between our two countries and we believe that we can work out a kind of formula of a future relationship which will serve the interests of both sides in the future. Thank you so much. Thank you

Q: Asks if it is possible that the Republic of China can keep the Consulate

MANDELA: Well I wouldn’t like us to go into details because there is going to be a committee composed of representing the Republic of China as well as South Africa that is going to go carefully into all these questions. All that I want to make it clear here today is that at the end of next year then diplomatic relations will be severed. The details will be gone into carefully and very sensitively because we are dealing with a country that has been of enormous support to us and so I will not go into details. These will be gone into.

Q: Why now?

MANDELA: I have answered that question and I’m not going to answer it again. I had a press conference in which that very question was asked if you are not aware of the answer, no useful purpose is going to be served by me, by giving that answer again. As I journalist I would have expect[ed] you to not to pester me with questions I’ve already answered.

Q: What can your government offer, politically and economically to maintain the highest relations with Taiwan and what is Minister Chang’s reaction

MANDELA: Well, I’ve already answered that question that we are going to maintain relations at the highest level short of diplomatic relations and these details are going to be gone into by the relevant committee


MANDELA: I’m sure the Minister would like to say something

Q: Beijing might not be satisfied with

CHANG: His Excellency President Mandela’s response to the question that in the future our bilateral relationship will be maintained at the highest level; a kind of formula will be worked out by both sides. I think that we need more negotiations and talks and discussions on how to arrange the new situation; the new relationship and you know one of the questions mentioned that if or not we will have Consulates or Consulate Generals, I think they are still remain to be further, you know, discussed.


MANDELA: to discuss our relations with Beijing here. These are very sensitive questions and it is sufficient to say that we are now establishing diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. We are not going to interfere in the relations between Beijing and Taipei, that is for these two countries to determine


MANDELA: No, if we cancel diplomatic relations with Taiwan there is no question of dual recognition.

Q: Are you going to adopt a one China policy?

MANDELA: Well look, I don’t want to put labels. The position is quite simple – that we say we are severing diplomatic relations with Taiwan. We are recognizing Beijing. I don’t see room for your question.

Q: Asks if he is concerned that some investors will withdraw

MANDELA: Well naturally it would be our concern but I have been happy about statements which come from Taipei where business says, influential business people are saying that this decision will not affect their business relations with us.

Q: You said you don’t have the moral courage to cut ties with Taiwan but now you are doing it

MANDELA: I am not going to answer questions which have already been put in the press conference that I had, which I answered to.

Q: Will the change in the relationship affect the ongoing cooperation between the two countries

MANDELA: I don’t think so. I’ve already answered that, that we are going to maintain relations at the highest level either than diplomatic relations. I hope that accommodates your concern

Q: Do you think Beijing will be able to replace the investment that Taiwanese government and people are already doing here?

MANDELA: Well I would like to discuss that with Beijing. I don’t think it would be proper for me to make any statement to preempt what our relations with Beijing will be at the end of next year.


MANDELA: I know that there is a tendency on the part of young men to flatter an old man. That region has got highly competent and gifted leaders who are capable, without the intervention of a third party, to resolve their own problems. They have already, Beijing and Taipei have gone a long way in addressing their problems notwithstanding the impasses in so far as the Two China policy. They made wonderful progress and they don’t need the intervention from anybody else, even an old man.

Q: Why did you announce your decision one year before?

MANDELA: Well I have selected this moment for reasons I’m not going to discuss with you or anybody else as the most appropriate time for me to make this decision.

Q: When will the two sides start to negotiate about the framework of the relationship?

MANDELA: Well, we will go into that question, that question is being discussed; it’s no longer in my hands, it’s in the hands of the technocrats; the specialists

Original Source

SABC TV Archive, SABC Information Library, Johannesburg.