Taiwan loses El Salvador


Beijing counted another small victory in its decades-long endeavor to box Taiwan out of international space when yet another country broke diplomatic ties with the island in favor of the PRC: El Salvador.

  • El Salvador’s president, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, said in a televised address, “We are convinced this is a step in the right direction that corresponds to the principles of international law, of international relations and the inevitable trends of our time,” the Guardian reports.
  • Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, said that the real issue was that “El Salvador had asked Taiwan to provide an ‘astronomical sum’ in financial aid for a port project that officials believed would leave both countries in debt,” according to the Guardian.
  • A tweeted statement from Taiwan’s foreign ministry, initialed JW for Joseph Wu, further argued: “As a responsible member of the global community, Taiwan will not engage in dollar nor debt-trap diplomacy. This is why El Salvador’s repeated requests for assistance with an unfeasible port development were declined.”
  • Opposition lawmakers in El Salvador indicated there was another controversy that led to the decision to break ties: “the government of the FMLN (Sanchez Ceren’s political party) asked [Taiwan] for money to finance the campaign in 2019,” one lawmaker said, a claim that a government spokesperson said was “totally false,” AP reports.
  • Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen also weighed in: “We will turn to countries with similar values to fight together against China’s increasingly out-of-control international behavior” (Reuters).
  • “El Salvador is the fifth country Taiwan will lose as a diplomatic ally since Tsai came to office in 2016, following Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic, Sao Tome and Principe and Panama,” Reuters notes.
  • But Taipei-based reporter Chris Horton, who covered the news for the New York Times (paywall), pointed out on Twitter: “Always worth restating that Taiwan’s unofficial allies, including the US and Japan are vastly more important than any remaining official diplomatic relationships.”