U.S. calls back ambassadors over severing of ties with Taiwan

2018/09/08 12:21:29 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
U.S. calls back ambassadors over severing of ties with Taiwan

Washington, Sept. 7 (CNA) The United States has called back three of its head diplomats in Central America and the Caribbean for consultations related to recent decisions by these countries to sever diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the U.S. State Department said Friday.

They are the U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic Robin Bernstein, the U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Jean Manes, and the U.S. Charge d'Affaires in Panama Roxanne Cabral, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement.

"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," she added.

In Taipei, Presidential Office spokesman Sidney Lin (林鶴明) said the government has learned of the news, but said it would not comment on "individual measures."

"We have been keeping close communication with the U.S. government," Lin said.

Taiwan has lost five diplomatic allies to China since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May 2016, including Panama in June 2017, the Dominican Republic in May this year, and most recently, El Salvador last month.

This has led to a sharp drop to 17 the number of countries which recognize Taipei instead of Beijing.

Commenting on El Salvador's decision at that time, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said Washington was "deeply disappointed" and was reviewing its relationship with El Salvador.

The White House, meanwhile, issued a stern statement saying the decision "affects not just El Salvador, but also the economic health and security of the entire Americas region."

"The El Salvadoran government's receptiveness to China's apparent interference in the domestic politics of a Western Hemisphere country is of grave concern to the United States, and will result in a re-evaluation of our relationship with El Salvador," it said.

Subsequently on Sept. 6, U.S. Senators Cory Gardner, Ed Markey, Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez jointly introduced the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act that requires a U.S. strategy to engage with governments around the world to support Taiwan's diplomatic recognition or strengthen unofficial ties with Taiwan.

It also authorizes the U.S. State Department to downgrade U.S. relations with any government that takes adverse action with regard to Taiwan.

In response, China's foreign ministry has said it is "unreasonable" for the United States to criticize, as both China and El Salvador are independent sovereign states with the right to determine their own foreign relations.

El Salvador has also defended its decision, saying linking its growth to that of a booming major economy was in the best interest of the country.

The United States itself switched to recognizing China, not Taiwan, back in 1979. Analysts say Washington may be worried Beijing will have too much influence in its backyard.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh, Yeh Su-ping and Y.F. Low)
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