Taiwan will not engage in “money diplomacy” in order to maintain official ties with St Lucia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Thursday amid foreign media reports that the Caribbean country is inviting both Taiwan and China’s representatives “for a talk” before it decides whether or not to withdraw ties with Taipei in favor of Beijing.
Speaking to reporters after the preliminary results were announced following Monday’s general election in which the opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) won more than half of the seats in parliament to form a new government, SLP leader Kenny Anthony said both countries would be given an opportunity to put forward their case to his new administration.
“We have no intention of throwing out the Taiwanese the day after. That would be wrong, that would be improper. I have indicated that we (will) hear both sides,” Anthony was quoted as saying in a Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) report.
“We will certainly invite the Taiwanese to come in and speak to us and with us, likewise, if the People’s Republic of China expresses an interest we will hear them,” he added.
During the election campaign, Anthony, who led the St Lucian government from 1997 to 2006, during which the country maintained ties with China, reiterated that he could sever ties with the Republic of China government in favour for the People’s Republic of China.
When asked to comment on whether the St Lucian leader’s remarks could mean that the Taiwan government needs to offer better financial assistance to the Caribbean country than its Chinese counterpart in order to maintain the bilateral ties, MOFA spokesman James Chang said Taiwan has always offered foreign aid “openly and transparently.”
“Taiwan offers grants to and carries out cooperation programs with its allies based on the principles of right goals, legal procedure and efficient implementation,” he added.
“The remark has been seen as a way to refute the possibility of engaging the “checkbook diplomacy” that the country previously used during the former administration in order to prevent allies from being snatched away by Beijing.
Chang reiterated that the SLP pledged prior to and after the election that bilateral diplomatic relations would remain the same and therefore changes in both the ruling party and of the prime minister would not jeopardize the island’s political relations with Taiwan.
“Taiwan has offered various forms of assistance to St Lucia that have benefited the people of that country and we believe that the newly elected government of St Lucia will proceed with cooperative projects,” he added.
—The China Post