Dutch envoy shares peace cup with Taiwan aborigines

17th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

The Netherlands' top official in Taiwan has donned tribal dress to make peace with an aboriginal group colonised by the Dutch three centuries ago, joking that he need no longer fear beheading.

Menno Goedhart, the head of the Netherlands' Trade and Investment Office, on Sunday visited the Lukai tribe in Taitung, a mountainous county in the island's southeast, to bury the hatchet, the Taipei-based China Times reported.

In the 17th century the Dutch colonised the island, then called Formosa, waging a fierce war against its inhabitants. They stayed for nearly 40 years before being defeated by a Chinese general and fleeing.

Goedhart, dressed in multi-coloured traditional Lukai clothing for the ceremony, shared a cup of rice wine with tribal chieftain Hu Hao-teh, symbolising brotherhood.

"Now I'm not afraid of having my head cut off," he was quoted as saying, referring to the head-hunting propensities of the aborigines' ancestors.

Taiwan's aborigines are Austronesians. In prehistoric times they sailed to the furthest corners of the Pacific and settled as far away as Easter Island.

There are no formal ties between Taiwan and the Netherlands, as China requires that all its diplomatic allies have no official relations with the island.

© 2010 AFP

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