Latin America

Guyana Cancels US-Backed Taiwanese Mission in Favour of ‘One China Policy’

Guyanese Foreign Minister Hugh Todd reversed the decision — announced not by his department but by the US Embassy — saying the South American country’s left-wing government maintained diplomatic ties with mainland China in line with the One China policy.

Guyana’s government has pulled the plug on plans for a Taiwanese mission in the country — citing its commitment to good diplomatic relations with Beijing.

The US Embassy in the capital Georgetown announced on Wednesday that Taiwan would be opening an “Office” in Guyana.

“The United States applauds the agreement to establish a Taiwan Office in Guyana,” the embassy statement read. “Deepening ties between Guyana and Taiwan will advance their shared goals of prosperity and security. Closer ties with Taiwan will advance cooperation and development in Guyana on the basis of shared democratic values, transparency, and mutual respect.”

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hugh Todd conformed later that day that Taiwan would open an “investment office” in the country, iNews Guyana reported. But he stressed that did not signify the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations between Guyana and Taiwan.

But on Thursday, Todd’s office announced the agreement had been cancelled — saying there had been “miscommunication” about its status in the media.

“The Government of Guyana wishes to clarify that it continues to adhere to the One China policy and its diplomatic relations remain intact with the People’s Republic of China,” a Foreign Ministry statement read. “The Government has not established any diplomatic ties or relations with Taiwan and as a result of the miscommunication of the agreement signed, this agreement has since been terminated.”

The “One China policy” recognises only one government for both mainland China and the breakaway island state in Taipei — founded by nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek in 1949 after his Kuomintang forces were defeated by Mao Zedong’s communists.

Washington only recognised Taiwan — officially the Republic of China — as the Chinese state from 1949 to 1979, before switching horses to back the People’s Republic of China (PRC) amid détente with Beijing. However, the US has continued to sell arms to Taiwan despite its periodic military skirmishes with the PRC. 

China protested last month after outgoing US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said he was lifting “self-imposed restrictions on the US-Taiwan relationship”. But newly-installed President Joe Biden invited Taiwanese envoy Hsiao Bi-khim to his heavily-guarded inauguration on January 20, the first president to do so in decades.

In this Jan. 22, 2017, photo provided by U.S. Navy, the USS John S. McCain conducts a patrol in the South China Sea while supporting security efforts in the region.

The new administration has since evidenced a return to the aggressive “pivot to Asia” policy of Biden’s old boss Barack Obama, with the State Department pledging to support Taiwan’s “self defence” capabilities and a US Navy carrier strike group venturing into the South China Sea.

Guyana’s People’s Progressive Party/Civic returned to power in the former British South American colony last year led by new President Dr Irfaan Ali — after months of stonewalling by his predecessor David Granger and his APNU coalition who attempted to annul nearly half the votes cast. The PPP-C won the support not only of regional leaders but the UK, US and European Union.

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