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China hooks new ally with US$3 billion in loans: source

ROC Central News Agency

2018/05/01 14:00:53

Taipei, May 1 (CNA) China has promised the Dominican Republic more than US$3 billion in loans to support its infrastructure projects, leading the Caribbean country to cut ties with Taiwan, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs source told local media Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) announced Tuesday that Taiwan was severing ties with the Dominican Republic after it switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing on Monday.

Wu said at a press conference Tuesday morning that the former ally made the change because of Beijing's financial incentives.

Though Wu did not specify what the incentives were, they amounted to more than US$3 billion in loans to the Caribbean country, a Foreign Ministry source told local media in a briefing offering details on the diplomatic split.

Of the US$3 billion in financing pledged, US$220 million will be used to build affordable housing units; US$400 million will go to highways; US$1.6 billion will be invested in railways; and US$50 million will be used to upgrade its civil aviation bureau's computer system, the source said.

Another US$300 million will finance a natural gas power plant; US$350 will be invested in a hydropower plant; and US$174 million will be put into an incineration plant, according to the source.

In describing the split, the source said the Dominican Republic had made moves since 2016 to explore setting up ties with Beijing.

Representatives from the Caribbean country had met with their Chinese counterparts twice since 2016 to discuss the possibility of forming diplomatic ties, according to the source.

The two meetings took place in third countries, once in a European country in 2016 and a second time in a Latin American country in March 2017.

The source said Taiwan was fully aware of the meetings and had been closely monitoring related developments.

There were other storm clouds gathering later in 2017, the source said.

Former Foreign Minister David Lee (李大維) visited the Dominican Republic in July 2017 but was unable to meet with the Caribbean country's foreign minister at that time.

Taiwan's Vice Foreign Minister José María Liu (劉德立) also visited the Dominican Republic in August and October 2017 but only met with its foreign minister on the October trip, according to the source.

Amid such difficulties, further efforts were made to secure bilateral ties, the source said.

Ex-Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) visited the Caribbean country on Oct. 27, 2017 and donated a number of decommissioned Humvees and military helicopters to the country. Taiwan also signed an MOU with the Dominican Republic in February 2018.

Those steps led the ministry to believe that diplomatic ties had been stabilized, but in fact relations had stagnated since then, the source said.

On Monday, Taiwan's ambassador to the Dominican Republic Tang Ji-Zen (湯繼仁) told the ministry he had been called to meet with the country's acting foreign minister on April 30, something the ambassador found strange because he had never been summoned that way during his two years in the post.

In Taipei, the Foreign Ministry immediately summoned the Dominican Republic's ambassador to Taiwan to find out what the meeting was about, but he insisted he had no knowledge of what was to be discussed.

Taiwan was officially informed of the country's decision to recognize Beijing instead of Taipei on 7 a.m. Tuesday Taiwan time, the source said.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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