China has poached another ally from Taiwan. The Dominican Republic is the latest country to switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, after China offered a multi-billion dollar package of investments and loans. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.
Australia’s ABC cites an official from Taiwan’s foreign ministry who said the package includes hundreds of millions for a new freeway and hundreds of millions more for a new natural gas power plant.
In Beijing, the Chinese foreign ministry said the move was entirely political, with no economic pre-conditions, but, now that ties have been established, “mutually beneficial co-operation” can proceed.
In fact, both China and Taiwan have used dollar diplomacy in a long running battle for international recognition that’s stepped up since the election of President Tsai Ing-wen and the independence minded Democratic Progressive Party in 2016. With the defection of Panama last year and now the Dominican Republic, just 19 countries remain in Taipei’s camp, most of them small and poor countries in Central America and the Pacific.
And a report this week in The Australian raises red flags about another Taiwanese ally. According to the newspaper, officials from the Solomon Islands are in preliminary discussions with China on the construction of an airport and a tourism hub on Guadalcanal. In addition to its diplomatic ties to Taiwan, the Solomons has a close strategic partnership with Australia.
The proposal, though, is a bit of a head scratcher. Guadalcanal is remote to begin with and the speculative tourist hub would be on the totally undeveloped south, or weather coast of the island.