Thu, Jun 07, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Costa Rica ties `sensitive': Huang

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The diplomatic relationship between Costa Rica and Taiwan has entered a "sensitive" stage, Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳) said yesterday.

Several newspapers reported yesterday that Taiwan might lose its long-term diplomatic ally Costa Rica, as China has been actively seeking high-level contacts with Costa Rica to build diplomatic ties.

The reports added that ties between China and Costa Rica were becoming "mature."

Huang said yesterday that his ministry would do its best to consolidate Taiwan-Costa Rica ties and still had high expectations of Costa Rica, which has maintained ties with Taiwan since 1944.

"Taiwan will not rule out severing diplomatic relations with Costa Rica if it does turn to China," Huang said yesterday afternoon.

"But it is totally groundless and far from the truth to say we will take the initiative to break ties with Costa Rica," Huang said, referring to local media reports.

He added that Costa Rica had not made any demands from Taiwan as a trade-off.

Huang said that the relationship between Taiwan and Costa Rica was at a "sensitive" stage, and that Costa Rica was debating whether to switch diplomatic ties to China or stay loyal to Taiwan.

China has been actively seeking improved contacts with Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica the last few years and has taken advantage of its position as a permanent member of the UN Security Council to cosy up to Taiwan's allies that are seeking nonpermanent membership of the council, Huang said.

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias was working toward this role and met China's former foreign minister last year at the UN, Huang added.

The relationship between Taiwan and Costa Rica was also overshadowed during Taiwan's bid for full membership of the WHO last month when Costa Rica voted against it. Taiwan was surprised at Costa Rica's vote and was unsatisfied with its ally's explanation.

Huang said Ambassador to Costa Rica Wu Tzu-dan (吳子丹) offered his resignation when Huang visited Belize late last month May, but Huang refused.

Costa Rican Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno yesterday was quoted by the Central News Agency as saying that Costa Rica's ties with Taiwan remain unchanged.

Rafael Ramirez, a consultant to the Costa Rica Chamber of Exporters, said during an interview with AFP recently that Costa Rica has maintained a "strategically important" relationship with Taiwan that should not be changed under any circumstances.

Ramirez added that although China has a seductively huge market, many of the expectations are only "illusory."

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator John Chiang (蔣孝嚴), a former foreign minister, said he was worried that a "domino effect" might take place among Taiwan's diplomatic partners.

KMT lawmakers also contended that the DPP is likely to rehash the issue of the country's bid to join the UN in the name of "Taiwan" as an approach to fuel political issues.

Additional reporting by CNA

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