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Taiwan to open office in Guyana; US welcomes move, Guyana says One China policy intact

Last Updated on Wednesday, 3 February 2021, 21:19 by Denis Chabrol

Guyana has granted permission to Taiwan to open an office in Georgetown to facilitate trade and investment, but government has assured that the South American nation’s One China Policy remains intact, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Elisabeth Harper said Wednesday night.

“Guyana has not recognised Taiwan as a State. We continue to accept the One China policy and our diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China remains intact,” she told News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM/ Demerara Waves Online News.

She said China was aware of Guyana’s decision that was taken in January, 2021 granted for Taiwan to open an office in Guyana. Further, she said Guyana has informed China that the One China Policy would remain unchanged. “We have done that and it remains intact. That is a position that Guyana will not back-track on,” she said.

Ambassador Harper explained that the decision to allow Taiwan  to open an office in in Guyana was aimed at attracting trade and investment opportunities. “That is what the focus is; there is nothing on the diplomatic side…It’s not something that is new. I believe that when you look at what is happening in the world, when you look at what is happening in Guyana’s economic trajectory and the fact that we are opening up our country for business, then we are looking for credible investments and to give opportunities even to our private sector to do joint ventures even with credible businesses and other businesses that want to invest,” he said.

News of the development  first came in a United States (US) embassy statement Wednesday evening, welcoming the move by Guyana. “The United States applauds the agreement to establish a Taiwan Office in Guyana.  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,” the US said through its embassy in Georgetown.

Guyana has for decades rigidly stuck to its One China policy, only recognising the People’s Republic of China in all international fora.  Guyana has over the years benefitted from grants, soft loans and medical teams.

Ambassador Harper said there are several other countries that enjoy diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, but have Taiwan Offices that deal with trade and economic issues. ”

Against the background of the US repeated criticism of the quality of Chinese construction projects, President Irfaan Ali is on record as saying that Guyana’s relationship would not be confined to one country.

The top Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said the US played no role in Guyana’s decision to green-light the Taiwan Office in Georgetown.

The US has been warning China against escalating tensions, amid war games such as the flying of fighter jets and the presence of warships over and near Taiwan as a warning of conflict if  Taipei declares independence. China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province that will be eventually reintegrated with the mainland.

Since coming to power in August, 2020, the People’s Progressive Party Civic-led administration appeared to be very pro-American. Decisions include supporting a US nominee for the presidency of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and activating the more than 22-year old Ship Rider Agreement with US to allow for joint patrols in the fight against narco-trafficking and illegal and unregulated fishing.

Last month, the United States Coast Guard and the Guyana Defence Force Coast Guard conducted nearshore joint patrols to counter illegal and unregulated fishing in the Exclusive Economic Zone.

The Head of the US Southern Command, Admiral Craig Faller on Wednesday again reiterated that Chinese fishing vessels, with the backing of the Chinese government, turn off their location transponders so that they could ravage fishing grounds around the world.

China has already promised not to tolerate the violation of fishing laws.

The US last year played a major role in the international community’s call for the figures from the national vote recount to be used to declare the results of the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections after glaring questions had been raised about the declarations for Region Four that had sought to hand a victory to the then incumbent A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC).

The APNU+AFC continues to claim that the PPP had rigged the elections by massive impersonation of dead persons and migrants, and an absence of key documents to reconcile with votes.