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Taiwan on Friday accused Beijing of pressuring Guyana into terminating a deal with the island to set up a trade office, saying it highlighted the Chinese government’s “evil nature”.
Less than a day after Taiwanese officials announced the setting up of the office, Guyana’s foreign ministry said it had been scrapped and that the South American nation remained committed to its diplomatic ties with China.
“We express strongest dissatisfaction and condemnation that the Chinese government has again bullied and suppressed Taiwan in the international space,” Taipei’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
“The Chinese government says one thing but does another which will only highlight its evil nature and further distance the people on the two sides.”
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen described Guyana’s decision as “unilateral” in a Facebook post.
“Taiwanese people will not bow down their heads in adversity,” she added. “Taiwan’s firm determination to walk towards the world definitely won’t change because of this.”
Only 15 countries officially recognise Taiwan over China, which sees the democratic, self-ruled island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if needed.
Beijing has ramped up military pressure and snatched seven of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies since Tsai came to power in 2016, as she refused to acknowledge its stance that the island belongs to “one China”.
Taiwan had said Thursday that its representative office in Guyana had started operations provisionally in January, a step the United States called a “milestone”.
But Guyana issued a statement the same day, saying it “wishes to clarify that it continues to adhere to the One China policy and its diplomatic relations remain intact with the People’s Republic of China”.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman had warned Thursday that any attempted by Taipei “to get foreign support and engage in separatist activities is doomed to fail”.
Taipei has tried to push back against Beijing’s campaign to keep it isolated and locked out of international bodies such as the World Health Organization.
As a result, any successful move to expand or protect existing diplomatic relations is seen as a major win by Taipei and its biggest unofficial ally Washington.