Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said Tuesday that his nation would maintain a “solid diplomatic relationship” with Taiwan despite communist China’s military threats against the self-ruled island.
Giammattei arrived in Taiwan for a four-day visit on Tuesday, which he said would serve as a message “about respect for the independence of nations” while reaffirming his country’s strong support for the island.
During a meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, Giammattei pledged his “unconditional support” for Taiwan and expressed his interest in deepening cooperation with Taiwan in various sectors.
“Guatemala will continue to stand with Taiwan, the Republic of China, with the most solid diplomatic relationship and continue to deepen cooperation in various fields, especially in medical care, health, economy, and infrastructure,” he said, according to Tsai’s office.
Giammattei affirmed his country’s support for Taiwan’s diplomatic mission to defend national sovereignty and promote regional peace. The Guatemalan leader concluded his speech with, “Long live Taiwan.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning criticized Guatemala’s move and emphasized China’s economic role. Mao said that Beijing is “the second-largest source of imports and fifth-largest destination of exports” for Guatemala.
“They will not hinder the irreversible historical trend toward China’s reunification,” Mao told reporters. “History also shows that none of the attempts to split China will end well.”
Guatemala is among the 13 nations that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, a democratically-elected island that Beijing claims as its own and has vowed to conquer by force if necessary.
Tsai visited Guatemala last month and met with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) during her transit in California, drawing ire from Beijing as it views such meetings as a support for Taiwan’s desire to be seen as an independent country.
Beijing staged a three-day military drill around Taiwan in response to Tsai’s meeting, sending a record of 91 warplanes and 12 naval vessels toward the island on the final day of its drills, with 54 aircraft spotted crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait.
No Intention of Asking for ‘Free Money’ From Taiwan
Guatemala central bank Gov. Alvaro Gonzalez Ricci said Monday that unlike Taiwan’s former ally Honduras, Guatemala has no intention of asking Taiwan for billions of dollars to maintain diplomatic ties.
“I think we can ask Taiwan [for things] but not free money. Maybe they can invest in some bonds for Guatemala, for example, and find projects that can last for 25, 30 years, not just donations to certain projects in the short-run,” he said.
Honduras severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan last month in favor of China’s relations, which Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said was a result of Honduras demanding “unreasonable” aid from Taiwan.
Wu said Honduras’s Castro government had requested billions in additional aid from Taiwan, including doubling its initial appeal for $45 million for construction of a hospital to $90 million, and another $50 million to go toward the construction of a $300 million hydroelectric dam.
Wu said the inflated figure for the hospital was essentially bribery. “It felt like what they wanted was money, not a hospital,” he told reporters.
Tsai has said that her government will not compete with China in “meaningless” dollar diplomacy.
“These past few years, China has persistently used any and all means to suppress Taiwan’s international participation, intensify its military intimidation against Taiwan, and disrupt regional peace and stability,” she said on Twitter on March 26.
“Taiwan’s people have proved to the world that we never cower from threats. Taiwan’s cooperation and links with allies and like-minded countries to jointly promote international well-being and security will only increase, not decrease,” Tsai added.
Economy minister Janio Rosales said that while Guatemala has no debt issue with Taiwan, the Central American nation wants more balanced trade with Taiwan as it runs a trade deficit with the island.
“We want to have a better, balanced trade, so what we are promoting is for more investment from enterprises from Taiwan to Guatemala and to extend cooperation between the two countries. It has been a great alliance,” he said.
Epoch Newsroom and Reuters contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times