Sun, Apr 21, 2019 - Page 6 News List

US aid and its effects on Taiwan

By Juan Fernando Herrera Ramos

This brings the attention back to Honduras and Guatemala. Last year, Taiwan News reported on more than one occasion how the Honduran authorities were dissipating rumors about a possible breakup.

The first report came in May last year, when Honduran Ambassador to Taiwan Rafael Sierra denied rumors that the Honduran minister of foreign affairs was in Beijing negotiating a possible deal to cut ties with Taiwan.

He also described the relationship between the two nations as stable.

In September last year, there was another report that talked about the denials by Honduran Ambassador to the US Marlon Tabora Munoz of reports that the Central American nation was looking to make a change in diplomatic ties.

“Honduras values its long-term friendship with Taiwan and hopes for a continuous deepening of the relationship,” Munoz said.

Later that month, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez gave an interview to Reuters in which he said that if there were cuts in US support to Central America, that would probably have a negative effect on the efforts to reduce illegal immigration.

In the interview, he also described China’s growing diplomatic presence in Central America as an “opportunity,” and said there were other countries in the region that might follow El Salvador and Panama in switching ties.

However, when asked about a possible switch to China, he said that “we’re still with Taiwan.”

“Each country follows the principle of self-determination, that it can make its own decisions. For the time being, we’re betting on a commercial relationship with Taiwan, a window to enter the Asian market,” he said.

Guatemala had also faced its own rumors regarding a possible switch, prompting US Senator Marco Rubio to respond to them by urging Guatemala to maintain its diplomatic relationship with Taiwan or risk losing US aid.

Rubio also advised Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales not to listen to his pro-China aides regarding the situation of Taiwan.

The concerns of switches had been fueled after Guatemala failed to release a statement in support of Taiwan after El Salvador severed ties with the nation and after Hernandez did not speak out in behalf of Taiwan at the UN General Assembly.

However, after the unexpected backlash from the US for El Salvador’s decision to switch ties to Beijing, with members of the US Congress issuing threats of retaliation against the country and any others that might think about following their steps, the situation between Taiwan and its Central American allies seemed to normalize.

This was because of the need that the countries have for US aid and the historical relationship between them. These factors made the change of ties seem like an unlikely scenario, as it was not in their best interest to risk the funds coming from Washington by going against its wishes of a strong relationship with Taiwan.

However, the new decision to cut aid might release the pressure on the Central American nations — after all, what would they have to lose if they switch ties when the US is already cutting financial support?

There are already many observers who are discussing the possibility of China filling the void that the US is leaving by stepping back from the region.

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