While reaffirming its allegiance to Taiwan, El Salvador said it was not against establishing ties with China but would never accept severing relations with Taiwan as a precondition.
El Salvadoran President Antonio Saca made the comments at a press conference held after a meeting with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) at El Salvador's Presidential Office on Friday afternoon.
Chen, on the second-leg of his nine-day tour of Central America, was greeted on Friday morning with a full military honor and 21-gun salute at the airport.
Saca told the press conference that he had no problem seeing the private sector establish trade offices in China because El Salvador is a free country with a free market.
"Our relationship with Taiwan is very unique and it is inappropriate for the government to set up a trade office in China or allow such establishment here," he said. "El Salvador and Taiwan have many cooperative projects whose importance is far more than that of business interests with China."
Saca said his nation's support for Taiwan was not mere slogan, but would be put into action. As the UN General Assembly is set to meet next month, Saca said he would personally attend the sitting and speak in favor of Taiwan's UN bid.
"Our stance is clear. We think Taiwan is an independent sovereignty and the 23 million people of Taiwan deserve the recognition of the whole world," he said.
After Taiwan and seven of its diplomatic allies in Central America and the Caribbean signed a joint communique on Thursday supporting Taiwan, Saca said El Salvador made it clear that Taiwan has the absolute right to exist and it supports Taiwan's accession to all international organizations.
Praising El Salvador as the nation's most loyal friend among its 24 diplomatic allies, Chen thanked the Central American country for endorsing Taiwan's UN bid, making it the 16th country to back the campaign.
Chen called on other countries to resist China's opposition to Taiwan's UN bid, saying Saca was not daunted when China's UN representative pounded the table to express his objection while the El Salvadoran president was speaking in favor of Taiwan's application at the UN General Assembly in two past occasions.
"Taiwan's 23 million people are not afraid of the 1,000 missiles China has pointed at us, so don't be afraid of China pounding the table," he said.
Chen said he understood the difficulties of some diplomatic allies who cannot publicly support Taiwan because Taiwan cannot demand they repay all the country has done for them. It does not affect the relations with those countries, however, he said.
Chen also delivered a speech at the Legislative Assembly and received the "Noble Friend of El Salvador" certificate, the highest honor bestowed upon foreigners by the assembly for their outstanding contribution to the government and people of El Salvador.
Chen received a standing ovation from the ruling party and its allies when he said he still loved the great El Salvadoran people despite some legislators' different opinions of him and Taiwan.
Members of the opposition party, Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (or FMLN), remained seated and did not join the applause.
Later yesterday, Chen, at a state dinner held for Saca, Vice President Vilma de Escobar, the head of the Legislative Assembly, chief of the Supreme Court and other high-ranking officials, said he had accepted Saca's invitation to be the spokesmanfor El Salvadoran coffee.