"What happens across the strait should be decided by the people (living) on both sides," Wu Hsin-hsing said when asked how the council was trying to foster solidarity in the Taiwanese diaspora in the face of recent Chinese efforts to limit Taiwan's international space.
Asking overseas compatriots to pick sides in the matter was pointless, Wu said.
Legally, overseas Taiwanese are foreign nationals, so "why should they get involved in the dispute (between Taiwan and China)?" he asked.
Wu said that since taking office, he had been trying to promote the view that playing such wasteful, zero-sum games with China was unnecessary.
"Overseas Taiwanese know that supporting the Republic of China and Taiwan is supporting freedom and democracy," he said.
"It's fair to say that the (world's) entire Chinese population will feel hopeless if the free and liberal Taiwan were swallowed by the Communist Party and no longer existed."
Reiterating that the existence of a liberal Taiwan was "no doubt a positive asset" for all Chinese worldwide, Wu urged benign competition across the strait.
He also called on Taiwanese to push Chinese Communist Party members to contemplate why freedom and democracy could work here but not there.
The Overseas Community Affairs Council serves overseas Taiwanese without any ideological restrictions, Wu said, adding: "This is the democratic R.O.C."
'Political divide fading'
The political divergence between the blue and green sides has narrowed among overseas Taiwanese in recent years, with such adversarial sentiment giving way to solidarity, Wu said.
The minister said he had sensed such a change in attitude particularly strongly since President Tsai Ing-wen took office last year, saying that most overseas Taiwanese he had spoken with had expressed support for the new administration.
When the entire overseas population jointly supports the government, the nation is blessed, he said.
Wu also argued for the importance of the council's mission, and warned that "the people will be very disappointed if the government decides to abolish the council after all."
The New Power Party last year proposed merging the council with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs — a move Wu rejected at the time by saying the body was crucial to showing nationals abroad that the government cared for them.(Courtesy of The China Post http://www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/china-taiwan-relations/2017/01/27/490490/Dont-bother.htm)