Representative meets with US, allies’ officials

CHINESE INFLUENCE::US officials are increasingly concerned about China’s growing clout in the western hemisphere as more nations switch ties from Taipei to Beijing

Staff writer, with CNA, WASHINGTON

Sun, Oct 20, 2019 - Page 3

Representative to the US Stanley Kao (高碩泰) on Friday met with several officials from the US Department of State and representatives of seven of Taipei’s diplomatic allies in an effort to help Taiwan keep its rapidly diminishing allies in the western hemisphere.

One of the top items on the meeting agenda was how to enhance cooperation between Taiwan and its allies in the western hemisphere through a wide range of measures to facilitate infrastructure, trade and investments, as well as the safeguarding of democratic values.

Washington has expressed concerns about Taiwan’s loss of diplomatic allies to Beijing — fearing China that would challenge its influence in the region — in particular after Taipei lost two Pacific diplomatic allies, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati, in just one week last month.

The US government has threatened to punish countries that switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing by reducing its aid to and cooperation with those nations.

Since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May 2016, Taiwan has lost six diplomatic allies, largely due to Beijing no longer refraining from forming diplomatic relations with the mostly poor and underdeveloped countries as a result of its tense relations with Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party.

Taiwan now formal diplomatic relations with just 15 allies.

That has increased concerns by some US officials about China’s growing influence in these countries, even as the nations’ leaders have defended their decision to switch ties as acting in the best interests of their people due to increasing trade with China and Beijing’s promises of large-scale infrastructure development and other aid.

Michael Kozak, acting assistant secretary for the department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, said on Twitter that he was delighted to meet with friends from Taiwan and its allies in the western hemisphere.

“We stand w/ #Taiwan-a reliable partner that delivers high-quality infrastructure development that meets international standards, respects labor rights, & protects the environment,” Kozak said.

Other US officials present at the meeting included US Deputy Assistant Secretary for China, Mongolia and Taiwan Coordination Jonathan Fritz and Julie Chung, principal deputy assistant secretary for the department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, as well as officials from the US National Security Council.

Among the representatives of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies was Saint Lucian Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, who attended the Double Ten National Day celebration in Taipei last week.

Other representatives included chief economics and finance officials from Paraguay; Guatemala; Haiti; Honduras; Saint Kitts and Nevis; and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Meanwhile, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US said on Twitter that Taiwan looked forward to working with the US and all of its diplomatic allies to boost trade and investments for sustainable economic growth.

The meeting was organized by the US government in conjunction with the joint annual meeting of the World Bank Group and the IMF in Washington.

This was meant to make it more convenient for the allies to send representatives to attend the event, organizers said.