Thu, Jan 27, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan, Grenada set to cut ties

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Even as the nation's Caribbean ally was readying to declare an end to the relationship, allegations of bribery by Chinese officials surfaced

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

With Taiwan and Grenada's 16-year diplomatic relations hanging by a thread, the Caribbean state's most senior diplomat returned from Beijing to Grenada yesterday, and is expected to announce the resumption of formal diplomatic ties with China today.

Elvin Nimrod, Grenada's minister of foreign affairs and international trade, signed a joint communique with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing (李肇星) to resume diplomatic ties between the two sides last Thursday.

"We will cut ties with Grenada as soon as it makes an official statement telling the general public about its new official relations with China, ministry spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) said yesterday.

The ministry, aware that Grenada could not have resumed ties with China without promising to sever relations with Taiwan, is ready to give up the Caribbean ally.

Ruling out the possibility that Grenada might grant dual recognition to both Beijing and Taipei, Lu said Grenada must have vowed to keep Beijing's "one China" policy while re-establishing diplomatic links with China.

A report by the Grenada Today newspaper revealed last Saturday that a US$50,000 fund donated by the People's Republic of China's (PRC) Red Cross to its counterpart in Grenada for reconstruction work after Hurricane Ivan actually went into the pockets of Grenadian Prime Minister Keith Mitchell's government.

The money, which originated from a non-governmental organization in Beijing and was issued through the PRC Red Cross, was supposed to be given to the Red Cross of Grenada, which told the paper that it never received the money.

The paper said China gave the aid to Grenada through the two countries' Red Cross organizations, because the countries did not have diplomatic relations at the time.

Nevertheless, despite this lack of ties, the US$50,000 was eventually handed to a senior Grenadian tourism official through the Chinese embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados, the paper said.

Brenda Hood, chairperson of Grenada's National Emergency Relief Organization and the minister of tourism in Mitchell's administration, collected the money in November last year following a visit she made to Barbados in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan on Sept. 7, according to the paper.

"Minister Hood is reported to have met and held talks with officials of the PRC Embassy [in Barbados] as part of Grenada's efforts to seek assistance in rebuilding the country," the paper said.

The paper added that in its investigation, it found that although Hood notified the Grenada Red Cross about the money, the money was never handed to the organization.

The paper quoted a Grenada Red Cross official as saying that while the charity telephoned the PRC embassy in Barbados on Jan. 10, they were told that the money was for the Mitchell government and not for use by the local charitable organization.

A source told Grenada Today that "the situation involving the Red Cross is a clear case of `dollar diplomacy,' in that Beijing is issuing its influence to get Grenada to break relations with Taiwan.

"Beijing has reportedly promised the Mitchell government US$100 million in aid over a 10-year period," the paper said.

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