Editorial

St Lucia torn between two lovers — China and Taiwan

Sunday, September 16, 2012    

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BASED on a report prepared by former Prime Minister Professor Vaughn Lewis, St Lucia is to maintain relations with Taiwan while seeking diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China.

This comes as a surprise since it was the administration of Dr Kenny Anthony which severed relations with Taiwan in 1997 and opened diplomatic relations with China.

The farce that the Republic of China, better known as Taiwan, is the legitimate government of China has been maintained by a small and declining number of countries since the beginning of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Taiwan has been able to maintain this ludicrous situation by spending millions to buy the diplomatic allegiance of poor small countries desperately in need of financial assistance. The handful of countries who recognised Taiwan has never changed their commitment. Others less encumbered by principles have opportunistically sold their allegiance to the highest bidder and have switched between Taiwan

and China.

St Lucia maintained diplomatic relations with Taiwan from 1984 to 1997, but the Kenny Anthony-led administration switched recognition to China in 1997 and this was the status quo until 2006 when the opposition led by Mr John Compton returned to office. They reversed the diplomatic ties by reinstituting Taiwan on May 1, 2007 and this followed almost immediately by the suspension of diplomatic relations by the People's Republic of China. At that time, the xinhua news agency quoted foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao as saying that the resumption of ties was a "flagrant violation" of a 1997 declaration establishing ties between China and St Lucia.

The Anthony Government has stated that it will keep diplomatic relations with Taiwan, surprising many who expected the new administration to switch to China. It seems unlikely that The People's Republic of China will stand for this since in 2007 China immediately unilaterally suspended diplomatic relations with St Lucia when it switched to Taiwan.

The aggressive tactics of Taiwan during this year to force Grenada to repay its debt is directly related to Grenada's switch to China a few years ago and belies the notion of peaceful co-existence. Close economic integration and a lowering of the military rhetoric does not mean the end of the rivalry for diplomatic allegiance.

The pronouncement makes a mockery of Dr Anthony's statement in 1997 that he was making the switch to China for reasons of principle based on a pragmatic assessment of global geo-politics.

In a parody of a popular song it seems that St Lucia is torn between two lovers (donors). The problem is that while St Lucia wants to have relations with both simultaneously, each donor wants exclusive rights. It is all or nothing, which raises the question of whether what the Government of St Lucia is proposing is pragmatism or opportunism. The eastern Caribbean island could end up 'want all, lose alI', getting little or nothing from both of them.

The choice is even more enigmatic since Mr Anthony's party accused the former ambassador of Taiwan of flooding the island with money to support the Stevenson Government and had him withdrawn. Who knows what the new Taiwanese ambassador has offered?

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