Taiwan is to open a representative office in Guyana, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced yesterday, establishing a presence in the South American nation that is to focus on economic ties, before eventually offering commercial and consular services.
On Jan. 11, an agreement was inked with the Guyanese Department of Foreign Trade to establish a “Taiwan office,” with the possibility that Guyana would open a reciprocal office in Taiwan, the ministry said in a statement.
The South American nation is rich in minerals and oil, while its capital, Georgetown, houses the secretariat headquarters of the Caribbean Community cooperative bloc, the ministry said.
Photo: Lu Yi-hsuan, Taipei Times
Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) told a morning news conference that the “Taiwan office” name was agreed upon by both sides.
It is to be the second foreign office that uses “Taiwan” in its title, following the establishment of the Taiwan Representative Office in Somaliland last year, Ou said.
Neither country has formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
A small team has been sent to Georgetown to conduct initial preparations, such as finding a location, after which an official representative would be appointed, Ou said, adding that plans are still being discussed and would be announced once they are finalized.
The office would have the same status as other representative offices Taipei has established, with the same capacity as missions in the EU, the UK, Israel and other nations with which Taiwan lacks official diplomatic ties, she said.
Although Georgetown has yet to issue a formal statement, Guyanese Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hugh Todd on Wednesday confirmed the agreement, while denying there was any change to Guyana’s “one China” policy.
“Guyana is not establishing diplomatic relations with Taipei,” Todd told local reporters, adding that the office would merely facilitate private trade and investment.
The Web site of the Chinese embassy in Guyana said that Chinese Ambassador to Guyana Cui Jianchun (崔建春) issued a farewell address on Jan. 19, hailing the nation’s longstanding adherence to the “one China” principle, although Beijing has yet to announce his removal or appoint a successor.
Taiwan signed the deal with the knowledge that Georgetown has its own China policy, a person with knowledge of the matter said.
However, Taipei hopes there would be space to develop equal relations, the person said.
Taipei has “opened the door wide” for Guyana to establish a reciprocal office, but, given the COVID-19 pandemic, would welcome an announcement by Georgetown whenever the time is right, the source said.
While the details are still being negotiated, there would be “reciprocal and equal treatment,” they said.
The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) applauded the deal.
“All countries should be free to pursue closer ties and greater cooperation with Taiwan, a leading democracy, a major economy and a force for good in the world,” the AIT said in a statement.
The US “remains committed to supporting Taiwan as it expands its international partnerships and works to address global challenges, including COVID-19,” it said. “We will stand with friends and allies to advance our shared prosperity, security and values around the world.”
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) questioned the necessity of an office in a nation with which Taiwan has few interactions, accusing the government of establishing the office “just to add one more” to the list.
The government should be prudent with the nation’s limited resources, the KMT’s International Affairs Division said.
The ministry was criticized last year after it set up the Somaliland office, a place whose sovereignty is not recognized by UN members, the KMT said.
Since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office, seven nations have severed diplomatic ties with Taipei and the nation remains shut out of most international organizations, the KMT said, calling on Taiwanese to press the administration to take practical action, not act on principle alone.
Taiwan has diplomatic relations with 15 countries, including nine in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Additional reporting by CNA
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