Taiwan foreign minister warns allies over China's financial pledges

09/12/2019 10:59 PM
Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu

Taipei, Sept. 12 (CNA) Chinese pledges of financial assistance are often not reliable, resulting in a country that recently cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan since seeking to re-establish relations, Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) revealed in a recent interview with CNA.

China likes to use its financial pledges to lure away Taiwan's diplomatic allies. Recently, ties with the Solomon Islands have been shaky because of Beijing's promises to provide development assistance, according to reports in the foreign media.

Taiwan does not know what pledges China has made to Honiara, Wu said in the exclusive interview on Wednesday, adding only that based on previous cases, China often breaks its promises.

Moreover, even if China follows through, recipient countries can find themselves in unaffordable debt, Wu warned, citing the cases of São Tomé and Príncipe, Dominican Republic and Burkina Faso, all former diplomatic allies of Taiwan that switched to China over the past three years.

China promised a US$600 million deep water harbor to São Tomé and Príncipe, transport infrastructures valued at US$1 billion to Burkina Faso and investments amounting to US$3 billion to the Dominican Republic, but work has started on none of these projects, Wu said.

Even when Beijing has fulfilled some of its pledges, the quality of those projects often leaves a lot to be desired, Wu said, mentioning a dam in Ecuador financed and constructed by China that had more than 7,648 cracks within two years.

The Ecuador government had planned to use the dam for power generation, but not only was that impossible, the original power grid was damaged, Wu said. The painful part is, Ecuador is still paying debts related to the project, he added.

Another example is a bridge built by China in 2017 in Kenya that collapsed even before it was completed, but Kenya still has to pay the costs, Wu pointed out.

"We need to let more countries know the consequences of China's financial inducements," Wu said, advising countries not to believe the fantasy that China can help lift up their economy and bring in investment.

Wu revealed that there is a former ally that cut ties with Taiwan and switched to Beijing in exchange for financial assistance. However, that country now regrets the decision and has since sought to re-establish ties with Taiwan because Beijing has failed to fulfill its multi-billion dollar pledges.

He did not name the country, but according to people familiar with the matter, it was the Dominican Republic.

Wu said the country has sent envoys to Taiwan to negotiate the re-establishment of diplomatic relations. However, Taipei declined the offer because "we felt that they hurt us so much. It is not our style (to re-accept an ally who left us)."

(By Elaine Hou and Emerson Lim)


    We value your privacy.
    Focus Taiwan (CNA) uses tracking technologies to provide better reading experiences, but it also respects readers' privacy. Click here to find out more about Focus Taiwan's privacy policy. When you close this window, it means you agree with this policy.