Thursday June 7, 2007 3:31 AM
By MARIANELA JIMENEZ
Associated Press Writer
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) – President Oscar Arias announced Wednesday that Costa Rica has broken diplomatic ties with Taiwan and established relations with China, delivering a blow to Asian island’s fragile international standing.
Arias said Costa Rica needed to strengthen ties with China to attract foreign investment.
Taiwanese Foreign Minister James Huang quickly offered to resign to take responsibility for Costa Rica’s switch, which left the Taiwan with relations with just two dozen nations.
Since splitting amid civil war in 1949, Taiwan and China have fought to win the diplomatic allegiance of countries around the world. China refuses to have diplomatic ties with nations that recognize Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a renegade province it plans to eventually unify with the mainland.
“We are looking to strengthen the commercial ties and attract investment,” Arias said. “China is the most successful emerging economy in the world and soon it will be the second strongest economy in the world after the United States.”
Central America in particular has been a bulwark of support for Taiwan, and Taiwan had expressed fears that if Costa Rica were to shift its recognition to Beijing, other nations such as Nicaragua and Panama could soon follow suit.
China spends heavily to induce nations to change diplomatic allegiances, offering investment, loans and other incentives.
Arias said China is the Central American nation’s No. 1 trading partner, buying more than $1 billion worth of Costa Rican exports last year.
“Taiwan has been very generous and I thank it for the solidarity and co-operation it has shown for nearly 60 years, but I have taken this decision thinking of all the Costa Ricans,” Arias said.
The change is just one more strike against Taiwan in its campaign for international legitimacy. Its high water mark came in the late 1960s when it had full relations with 67 countries, including the United States and much of western Europe. But within a decade, the U.S. pulled it embassy out of the Taiwanese capital. And today, just 24 states recognize Taiwan.
The United States, Japan, Great Britain and dozens of others maintain quasi-official ties with Taiwan – part of a diplomatic sleight of hand to honor Beijing’s condition that full diplomatic recognition be accorded to only one of the rivals.
However, Beijing resents even the quasi-official ties. Its main concern is the United States, which remains Taiwan’s most important foreign connection, providing it weapons to defend itself against a possible Chinese attack.
At a press briefing shortly after Costa Rica’s announcement, Huang, Taiwan’s foreign minister, offered to resign.
“I went to President Chen (Shui-bian) … and asked to resign to take political responsibility,” Huang told reporters.
Huang did not say if his offer was accepted.
Taiwan has been concerned about a deterioration of its relations with Costa Rica since May 14, when the Latin American country voted at an international health conference against holding a discussion on proposed Taiwanese membership in the World Health Organization.
On May 25, Huang met with officials from Costa Rica and four other Latin American countries in Belize City in an effort to shore up Taiwan’s diplomatic standing in the region.
Arias declined to comment on whether his decision could encourage other Central American nations to transfer their allegiance from Taipei to Beijing.
“I won’t speculate on the consequences of this decision in the rest of Central American because I made it thinking about Costa Rica,” he said.
Salvadoran President Tony Saca said Wednesday that his nation was interested in establishing relations with China but did not want to sever ties with Taiwan.
“Taiwan is an independent country that has won its space and we will going maintaining relations with Taiwan. If China accepts this we will open relations with pleasure,” Saca said.
This is good news indeed for Taiwan Province as Costa Rica has now wised up to understand the absurdity of their decision to back Taiwan all these years. In the end, money talks and the Nobel Prize winner Oscar Arias was smart enough to forge a future with the real Chinese government acknowledging that China is their largest trading partner and proving again that money talks regardless of the rhetoric spewed by Taiwan Province.
With just 24 countries recognising a soon-to-be defunct government of the Republic of China, but not a country called Taiwan, Taiwan Province should start changing the way it works with its feeble allies and the real Chinese government. They may have won St. Lucia with diplomatic bribes but they lost the much more significant Costa Rica from the growing world economy. Besides, none of the countries that still recognise the RoC government that Taiwan Province is trying to destroy ever got their backs in the UN, let alone show any respect to them at all.
Well, here is to wishful thinking to see the rest of the region eventually fall in line for greater opportunities in the Chinese market and for larger foreign aid. Oscar Aria won the Nobel Prize in the past for promoting Central American peace and now he is made a good move for the future of his citizens. On another note, Lee Tenghui has been getting Japanophilic orgasms from visiting the Yasukuni Shrine earlier today as well. Hopefully, the news of Costa Rica’s diplomatic switch will ruin his day walking through memory lane as a proud colonial slave for Japan.