Cabinet did not approve Taiwan Office in Guyana -Jagdeo

Last Updated on Tuesday, 9 February 2021, 22:36 by Denis Chabrol

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd on February 4, 2021 met with Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Chen Xilai, during which they discussed areas of mutual interest and cooperation.

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo on Tuesday said cabinet did not give the go ahead for Taiwan to open a trade and investment office in Guyana, a decision that government has since scrapped after China publicly scolded this South American nation.

“It did not, as far as I know when I had a briefing on this matter, had the approval of the Cabinet,” he told a news conference.

Reaffirming Guyana’s commitment to the ‘One-China’ policy in recognition of Beijing, he said last month’s green-lighting of the office in Guyana “should never have happened.”

Asked if anyone was disciplined, he said the issue has not come up at the Cabinet as yet.

The now rubbished agreement between Guyana and Taiwan, considered by China as a renegade province, was only made public on February 3 through a United States embassy statement. Subsequently, the Foreign Affairs Minister , Hugh Todd and Permanent Secretary Ambassador Elisabeth Harper confirmed in the media that Taiwan would open an office in Georgetown in keeping with an agreement reached in January.

Less than 24 hours after Guyana confirmed the American embassy’s announcement, China said it hoped that Georgetown would correct its mistake. And, following talks between Chinese embassy officials and Minister Todd,  the Guyana government announced that the Taiwan Office agreement had been terminated and reaffirmed this country’s commitment to the ‘One-China’ policy.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Hugh Todd on February 8 met with United States Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch.

The opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) almost immediately slammed the Irfaan Ali-led administration for the diplomatic blunder, saying that it would take years to rebuild the almost 50-year old relations with China.

Former Foreign Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee also welcomed the end of the Taiwan Office agreement. He said Taiwan had nothing to offer Guyana in organisations like the United Nations (UN) in dealing with Venezuela’s claim to Guyana’s Essequibo Region. He also said Taiwan does not have a seat at the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organisation and the Pan American Health Organisation/ World Health Organisation where Guyana’s interests lie.

The US recognises Taiwan. In recent months, top US officials have been travelling to Guyana and publicly criticising China’s quality of infrastructural projects and its alleged role in illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.