Thu, Mar 14, 2019 - Page 12 News List

Taiwan courts bank to counter China

OBSTRUCTIONISM:China is lobbying its allies in Central America to block any bid by Taiwan to host the Central American Bank for Economic Integration meeting


Taiwan is studying a bid to host a top meeting of Central America’s main regional bank, people with knowledge of the matter said, in its latest effort to break China’s diplomatic squeeze.

The nation is considering applying to host the 60th annual board meeting of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) next year, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the details have not been made public.

The bank is one of the few international organizations of which Taiwan is a full member under its official name, the Republic of China.

The lender is scheduled to decide on the host for next year at its board meeting in Argentina next month.

A decision to host the board meeting in Taiwan could prompt an angry response from China, which has increased pressure on countries and multinational companies to avoid any actions that could imply sovereign status for Taiwan.

The Chinese Communist Party views Taiwan as part of Chinese territory and routinely blocks its participation in most international organizations.

China has learned of Taiwan’s wish to host the meeting and is lobbying its allies in the region, including Cuba and Panama, to block the bid, people with knowledge of the matter said.

China is also in talks with members of CABEI to join the organization, with one of its main conditions being that the bank drop its recognition of Taiwan as a separate nation, the people said.

Taiwan, which holds a 10 percent stake in the bank, needs members holding at least two-thirds of the lender’s shares to support its proposal to host the meeting.

Another person said that the Ministry of Finance was close to deciding whether to officially submit a bid, but was uncertain whether Taiwan could muster sufficient support among the other members.

A bid would also need to be agreed to by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌).

Latin American and Caribbean nations have long been a stronghold of diplomatic support for Taiwan, favoring official ties with the nation over China.

While four of the bank’s 13 other members officially recognize Taiwan, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Panama have switched recognition to Beijing since Tsai was elected in May 2016.

Minister of Finance Su Jain-rong (蘇建榮) represents Taiwan on the bank’s board.

A spokesman for the ministry declined to comment.

Taiwan, along with the likes of Argentina, Mexico and Spain, is one of six members of the bank from outside Central America and its only Asian member.

Taipei last hosted a board meeting in 1995.

CABEI is one of the supranational institutions able to issue bonds in Taiwan. Since 2014, it has issued approximately US$1.1 billion of notes.

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