Ties with Paraguay stable despite U.S. senator’s warning: MOFA

United Nations' workers adjust the flag of Paraguay before a meeting Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Bryan R. Smith)

Taipei, May 16 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Wednesday reaffirmed that Taiwan’s ties with Paraguay, its only South American ally, remain stable despite a warning raised by a U.S. senator that Paraguay could be next to shift allegiance to Beijing.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio raised the concern to Alex Wong (黃之瀚), a deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, at a Senate hearing Tuesday.

During the hearing, Rubio said China has been trying to influence votes in international forums and gain leverage in the Western Hemisphere, pointing to Panama and the Dominican Republic’s cutting of ties with Taiwan and recognition of China.

“And now I’m hearing that perhaps Paraguay might be next,” he said.

He asked Wong if the U.S. has expressed concern to its allies in the Caribbean region and to China over Beijing’s aggressive moves.

In response, Wong, who visited Taiwan this March, said that any attempts to close off the international space of Taiwan and to alter the status quo across the Taiwan Strait are “disturbing” to the U.S.

“In our one-China policy, we seek to strengthen ties with Taiwan, we seek to provide them proper defensive capabilities to defend their democracy, but we also want to maintain the status quo because it’s the key to stability across the strait,” Wong said.

“Any moves to strip Taiwan of its diplomatic partners disturbs that status quo, and it’s something we made clear to our partners and we made to Beijing as well,” he said.

Asked to comment on Taiwan’s ties with Paraguay amid Rubio’s concern, MOFA spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) told reporters in Taipei that the ministry thanks friends in the United States for their concern over Beijing’s ongoing poaching of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies.

But he said the nation’s ties with Paraguay remain stable and bilateral cooperation is going smoothly.

(By Joseph Yeh)