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  4. After Nauru, Taiwan ally Guatemala mulls switching sides, likely to initiate commercial ties with China

After Nauru, Taiwan ally Guatemala mulls switching sides, likely to initiate commercial ties with China

The Central American country is one of a handful of Taiwan's remaining allies, as countries increasingly side with the world's second-largest economy China, which claims democratically-ruled Taiwan as its territory.

Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Guatemala City Published on: February 06, 2024 12:06 IST
Foreign Minister Carlos Ramiro Martinez
Image Source : REUTERS Foreign Minister Carlos Ramiro Martinez

Guatemala City: In yet another jolt to Taiwan, Guatemala is considering reaching out to develop formal trade ties with China, the Central American country's foreign minister told Reuters on Monday. Although the central American country said it plans to maintain its existing relations with Taiwan. The Central American country is one of a handful of Taiwan's remaining allies, as countries increasingly side with the world's second largest economy China, which claims democratically-ruled Taiwan as its territory.

"We are going to continue working with Taiwan at the levels we have been doing," Foreign Minister Carlos Ramiro Martinez said in an interview. "But the president has pointed out that we cannot ignore the weight and power China represents."

VIDEO: Foreign Minister Carlos Ramiro Martinez speaking about switching sides 

President Bernardo Arevalo assumed office in mid-January amid a fraught transition process, vowing to put an end to corruption and also establish relations with China. "We are interested in approaching them to try and develop some relationship around trade," Martinez said, saying this could materialize as an "office of trade interests" that would help find a Chinese market for Guatemalan products. "We are making it public, this is not an ambush against Taiwan or the United States," he added.

China influence soars 

The United States is Taiwan's most important international backer, despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties, and a major arms supplier to Taipei. China has in recent years increased its economic influence in Latin America, where countries have historically held closer ties with the United States. Many Central American countries have in recent years switched loyalties from Taiwan to China.

Taiwan, meanwhile, has signalled it no longer wants to compete with richer China in so-called "chequebook diplomacy".

Regarding migration, Martinez signalled a rights-based approach, saying the new government would not repeat the "repression" of prior administrations, such as throwing tear gas at groups crossing Guatemala hoping to reach the United States. Cooperation on fighting corruption and drug trafficking will be key issues to discuss with US counterparts, Martinez added, noting that U.S. aid channels which were frozen under the previous administration are being re-established. "The doors of cooperation are being reopened," he said.

Also Read: Nauru switches diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China, envoy says 'I was told to pack up and go'

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