Sun, Aug 26, 2007 - Page 3 News List

China closely monitoring Taiwan's diplomatic forays

By Fan Cheng-hsiang  /  STAFF REPORTER

China has raised a full-scale alert since President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) started his nine-day visit to Central America, high-ranking government sources said yesterday.

The Chinese government keeps watch on Africa, the South Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea in fear of Taiwan establishing new diplomatic ties in these regions.

Noting that Costa Rica's switch of recognition to China earlier this June has sabotaged Taiwan's diplomatic relations with its allies in Central America, the sources said the Chinese government was not only doing its best to suppress Taiwan in the international community, but was also trying to instigate Taiwan's allies to switch recognition to China as Costa Rica did.

Sources have told the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times' sister paper) that Chinese leaders recently talked to one of Taiwan's allies in Central America via telephone, saying China was willing to offer it a blank check in exchange for severing diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Costa Rican delegates have also lobbied Taiwan's diplomatic allies to establish diplomatic relations with China in many international conferences held in Central America, the sources said.

The cross-strait competition for diplomatic allies has become "hand-to-hand combat," they said.

The Chinese government continues to assert its influence in international organizations such as the World Bank to intervene in Taiwan's offer of financial aid to its diplomatic allies and to threaten them into turning their backs on Taiwan, the sources said.

Meanwhile, a Honduras-based Taiwanese businesswoman said that a high-level Honduran official told her that China had paid some Honduran officials US$250,000 each to humiliate Taiwan during Chen's visit.

She said she heard rumors that Honduras would establish diplomatic ties with China at the end of the year.

The businesswoman, who asked not to be named, has lived in Honduras for more than 25 years and is close to Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and the chairwoman of Honduras' ruling party.

Additional reporting by Ko Shu-ling

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