Mon, Nov 06, 2017 - Page 3 News List

China trying to poach allies: source

By Chung Li-hua and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

While relations with the nation’s diplomatic allies remain stable, China has been increasingly active in its attempts to poach Caribbean and Central American allies, including Haiti and the Dominican Republic, a government source said on Saturday.

“If China takes a heavy-handed approach, there is little we can do,” the source said.

Even when former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was in office, Beijing was incessantly active, despite the so-called “diplomatic armistice,” the source said, citing political maneuvering by the former China Commercial Office in Panama.

Head representative of China’s Office of Commercial Development in the Dominican Republic, Fu Xinrong (傅新蓉), was previously deputy director of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, which on Friday announced plans to invest US$820 million to build an incinerator, natural gas plant and hydro power plant in the Dominican Republic.

China is investing through direct injection of government funds, as well as through infrastructure projects run by its state-owned enterprises, the source said.

“Even if they sustain losses, they will take on these projects,” the source said. “Decades ago, Taiwanese enterprises would do the same to help with foreign affairs efforts, but what state-owned enterprise in Taiwan can do this today?”

Other nations have assisted Taiwan in stabilizing its relationship with the Dominican Republic, but the stability is only temporary, the source said.

China is capable of spending a large sum of money to poach the Dominican Republic as a diplomatic ally, the source said, adding: “Even among the relatively more stable allies in the South Pacific, there are some who will negotiate with Beijing.”

As China has more than 170 diplomatic allies, it is likely that giving a large amount of money to just a handful of them will cause strife with others, the source said.

It is likely that the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not deciding which of Taiwan’s allies to go after, but rather Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is, the source added.

“As US President Donald Trump is set to visit China, analysts say the US is carefully watching China’s attitude,” the source said. “As [former Australian prime minister] Tony Abbott has said: ‘China-focused policies are all about greed and fear — on the one hand hoping for an expanded market, while on the other hand worrying about threats and security.’”

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