3 minute read
1 May 2018
2:09 am

Dominican Republic establishes ties with China, breaks with Taiwan


The Dominican Republic and China announced they were establishing diplomatic relations Tuesday as the Caribbean country became the latest nation to dump Taiwan, leaving the island with just 19 diplomatic allies around the globe.

A Taiwanese navy flotilla docked in Nicaragua in April in a high-profile visit highlighting ties with Central America and the Caribbean that are shrinking as China presses countries in the region to drop diplomatic relations

Taipei said it was “deeply upset” at the decision to sever ties, which deepens its international isolation while its giant neighbour flexes its economic and political might on the global stage.

The Dominican Republic said it believed its switch to ties with China would be “extraordinarily positive for the future of our country”, in an official statement.

“The Dominican Republic recognises that there is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory,” it added.

Beijing announced Tuesday morning that the two countries would exchange ambassadors “as soon as practicable”.

At an emergency press conference, Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu said the government “deeply regrets that Dominican Republic and China established ties on May 1”.

Wu said the ministry “strongly condemns China’s objectionable decision to use dollar diplomacy to convert Taiwan’s diplomatic allies” and accused Beijing of failing to follow through on its promises to those countries it had wooed away.

Its actions had damaged cross-strait relations and eroded trust, said Wu, who blamed China’s financial incentives for ending the 77-year alliance with Dominican Republic.

The Caribbean country’s ambassador in Taipei had been summoned by the foreign ministry to express their protest and to tell him to close the embassy, Wu said.

– Vatican next? –

Taiwan now has 19 diplomatic allies left — 10 in Latin America and the Caribbean, two in Africa, six small island nations in the Pacific, and the Vatican.

Beijing and the Vatican severed diplomatic relations in 1951 and remain at odds over the appointment of bishops.

But an apparent warming of relations between Beijing and the Vatican — considered Taiwan’s most powerful remaining official ally — has triggered concerns that the Holy See may also switch allegiance from Taiwan to China, which would come as a crushing blow to Taipei.

Wu insisted that ties with the Holy See “would not be in immediate danger”, even if there were to be a breakthrough agreement on designating bishops in China.

Taipei has lost allies as decades of Cold War era ties with Central America and the Caribbean have dwindled.

In June last year, Panama cut ties with Taipei to open relations with Beijing. Costa Rica did so in 2007.

Taipei’s Mainland Affairs Council slammed the move, blaming Beijing for undermining cross-strait ties.

“We call on China to immediately stop provocative actions of exerting extreme political and military pressure on Taiwan,” they said.

The government of President Tsai Ing-wen is trying to push Taiwan’s international profile but is coming up against a concerted effort by Beijing to shrink its space on global platforms.

Taiwan diplomatic partners

Taiwan diplomatic partners

Taiwan is regularly shut out of influential forums as organisers come under pressure from Beijing not to recognise the island as a valid participant.

Mainland China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since 1949, but while democratic Taiwan sees itself as a sovereign nation, it has never formally declared independence. Beijing sees the island as a renegade province that is part of its territory awaiting reunification.

Wu said all assistance and cooperation with Dominican Republic would end immediately, while embassy officials and staff at technical missions would be repatriated.

Taiwan’s vice president Chen Chien-jen had visited Dominican Republic in August 2016 when he attended the inauguration of president Danilo Medina. Ex-foreign minister David Lee visited again in July 2017, shortly after Panama switched recognition to Beijing.