Top US diplomats huddle over Taiwan-China rivalry in Central America

By On September 08, 2018

Top US diplomats huddle over Taiwan-China rivalry in Central America

A trio of U.S. ambassadors to Central America are huddling in D.C. to discuss China’s diplomatic offensive against Taiwan, the State Department announced Friday.

“Our three Chiefs of Mission will meet with U.S. Government leaders to discuss ways in which the United States can support strong, independent, democratic institutions and economies throughout Central America and the Caribbean,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in an evening statement.

A chief of mission is the top U.S. diplomat in a given country; the trio recalled Friday represent the United States in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Panama. All three countries have cut ties recently with Taiwan in exchange for better relations with China, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan. Those Chinese gains have alarmed American officials, who worry about the diminution of Taiwan’s autonomy and the Communist power’s success in establishing beachheads in the Western Hemisphere.

“They're positioning themselves in all the different ports â€" in the Straits of Malacca, in the South China Sea,” said Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., who chairs the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific and also sits on the subcommittee for the Western Hemisphere. “Then you bolster that up with ships in El Salvador, possible ships in Cuba, possible ships in Haiti. ... I think it’s a big cause for concern.”

China portrays these diplomatic shifts as the most natural of developments, while taking a more aggressive tone regarding U.S. support for Taiwan. “The Taiwan separatist forces should not be aided nor have any space on the international stage,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in August.

U.S. lawmakers aren’t impressed by the threats; a bipartisan quartet unveiled legislation on Wednesday encouraging the State Department to downgrade diplomatic relations with countries that abandon Taiwan at China’s behest.

“Beijing is promising paydays to governments to entice them to cut diplomatic relations with Taiwan,” said Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., one of the cosponsors. “Without a coherent U.S. strategy to push back, Taiwan’s official partners might drop from 17 to zero. We must stand up for our friends in Taiwan.”

Source: Google News Taiwan | Netizen 24 Taiwan

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