Tue, Aug 01, 2017 - Page 3 News List

William Tseng asks if ‘dollar diplomacy’ is back

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

The government should review its foreign policy after a Belizean news site reported that Taiwan promised the Central American nation millions of dollars in loans and aid, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator William Tseng (曾銘宗) said yesterday.

“President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has repeatedly said that she would not continue ‘dollar diplomacy,’” Tseng said, urging the government to review its foreign policy for consistency.

When Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (李大維) was in Belize last week on an official visit, local news site Breaking Belize News reported that Lee had signed a memorandum of understanding on bilateral cooperation, promising “60 million dollars” in aid over the next four years, of which a third would be in grants and the rest in loans.

The report did not mention whether the aid was in US or Belizean dollars, and no confirmation of the amount could be found on the Web sites of leading Belizean newspapers Amandala, the Reporter and the Belize Times.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Eleanor Wang (王珮玲) said that Lee’s itinerary had been “simple and straightforward,” and confirmed that a memorandum had been signed.

She declined to specify the amount of aid promised, while providing a link to a 2012 Belizean Ministry of Foreign Affairs news release that said Taiwan had agreed to provide Belize with US$20 million in grants and US$40 million in loans between 2013 and last year.

No mention of the latest agreement was found in the Belizean ministry’s Web site.

“These are plans of a continuing nature and specific items will be decided by both sides through further negotiations,” Wang said when asked to provide examples of projects which would receive funding.

In related news, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said that Lin’s trip to the Caribbean included only two of the nation’s diplomatic allies, not five as reported by local media.

The main purpose of Lee’s trip was to attend a conference on development in Latin America and the Caribbean, which was held in the Dominican Republic, Wang said.

After the conference, Lee visited several locations in the Dominican Republic before continuing on to Belize, Wang said.

Lee’s trip from July 22 to Friday last week included visits to Taiwan-funded projects and discussions with top officials, Wang said.

Lee’s visit to Belize was at the invitation of his Belizean counterpart, Wilfred Elrington, and he was guest of honor at a dinner hosted by Belizean Prime Minister Dean Barrow, Wang added.

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