Wed, Dec 22, 2004 - Page 3 News List

MOFA has pessimistic outlook on ties with Grenada

`MORAL BOUNDARY' The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was preparing for Grenada to shift recognition to Beijing, and noted it wouldn't increase its foreign aid

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Although Grenada's Prime Minister Keith Mitchell has not yet announced a plan to switch his country's allegiance from Taiwan to China, the ministry of foreign affairs said yesterday it is braced for that outcome -- and stressed again that Taipei will not compete with Beijing on aid dollars.

"We are preparing for the worst to happen," said Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山). "For the dignity of our nation, we will never play `dollar diplomacy' with China."

Describing Mitchell's demand for more aid from Taiwan as "extortion," Chen added that Taiwan needed to set a "moral boundary" when helping its allies.

Mitchell, who took a trip to Beijing from Dec. 12 to Dec. 16, said in a televised speech on Monday that Grenada would move toward establishing "substantial relations" with China in order to obtain more aid for his impoverished country -- a move that would require it to sever formal ties with Taiwan.

Taiwan officials stressed that Grenada's new coziness with Beijing was no surprise.

"Actually, Mitchell started discussion with Chinese officials about establishing diplomatic relations long before he traveled to Beijing. We have been closely watching his moves," Allen Jiang (姜禮尚), the country's ambassador to Grenada, told the Central News Agency.

"The Republic of China has given a lot of aid to Grenada," Jiang said. "For example, we offered to help rebuild its national stadium after Hurricane Ivan hit and donated US$47 million for disaster relief."

However, Grenada remained discontent and thought China might give it more than what Taiwan offered, Jiang said.

Chen said that Taiwan has lodged a protest against Mitchell's trip with Grenada. The trip to Beijing also drew criticism from Grenada's media and opposition officials, according to the CNA report.

Chen told reporters yesterday that Mitchell did not mention Grenada's ties with Taiwan in his speech.

"We are keeping a close eye on what's going to happen next," he said. "Let's see where this drama will go."

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