Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Taiwan dumped by Dominican Republic amid pressure from China

A US M1A2 Abrams tank fires during the Noble Partner 2016 joint military exercise at the Vaziani training area outside Tbilisi Hottest Flashpoint in the Region’ Taiwan Wants US Tanks to Counter China AFP 2018 Vano Shlamov
Glenn Montgomery | 02 May, 2018, 01:56

Taiwan is cutting diplomatic ties with the Dominican Republic after the Caribbean country switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing on Monday, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) announced Tuesday.

"President Danilo Medina of the Dominican Republic has ignored our long-term partnership, the wishes of the people of the Dominican Republic, and the years of development assistance provided by Taiwan, to accept false promises of investment and aid by China", Wu said at a news briefing. An unnamed Taiwanese official told Reuters that China had won the country over with a $3.1 bn package of incentives and loans.

"On the one hand, she has been stepping up efforts to make Taiwan "less Chinese" and carrying out a policy of "saying no to China while fawning all over the USA and Japan"; and on the other hand, she now demands respect for Taiwan from the mainland and wants to talk 'without any political precondition, '" said an online commentary of the People's Daily, the ruling Chinese Communist Party's mouthpiece.

According to the Dominican government, bilateral trade with China has reached $2 billion a year, making the Dominican Republic the second largest trading partner for China among the Caribbean and Central American nations.

Taiwan will decide by the end of this year whether it will buy a series of USA battle tanks - and if so, how many - amid expectations of greater military pressure from mainland China.

The Chinese government continues to be critical of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen's administration.

Dominican's snub has left Taiwan with just 19 diplomatic allies around the globe.

The last countries before the Dominican Republic to switch allegiance had been Panama past year and the African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe in 2016.

Wang Yi, China's foreign minister, described the Dominican Republic's shift as part of a broader trend in Beijing's favor. During his stay in Santo Domingo, Lee also met with Taiwan's ambassadors in Latin America to discuss strategies for not losing more allies. Panama dropped its longtime ties with Taiwan a year ago and established relations with China, which considers Taiwan to be Chinese territory. Beijing has since voiced fears that this may lead to a declaration of independence by the autonomous island.

Yen added that Beijing would "hold more long-range military training and increase joint forces operations when engaged in such activities in waters near Taiwan".

The US-based Defence News website reported back in 2015 that Taipei had been looking for surplus US Army M1 tanks to replace its M60s, but tanks were not a high priority given the island's mountainous interior and coastal wetlands.

While Taiwan faces serious diplomatic challenges, Wu stressed that the government will not bow to pressure from Beijing. Later that year Beijing established ties with São Tomé and Príncipe after the island nation off the west coast of Africa broke with Taiwan.

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