TAIPEI (CNA) — Minister of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) vowed Thursday to keep Taiwan’s current diplomatic allies intact, one day after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) commenced her second term and amid a threat from China’s state-run mouthpiece to leave Taiwan with no formal allies.
Tsai was sworn in for her second term as president of the Republic of China (Taiwan) a day earlier.
The Global Times, a daily tabloid under the auspices of the Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Daily, said in an editorial that same day that the number of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies could become zero and that only the U.S. might give Taiwan some preferential treatment.
Asked to respond by legislators during a legislative interpellation session, Wu said that he would not comment on the hawkish Chinese media’s message, but that the MOFA will exert all its efforts to protect the rights and interests of Taiwan on the international stage.
“I will ensure that not one diplomatic ally will be lost,” Wu said after being pressed by a legislator on whether he has the confidence to safeguard Taiwan’s formal ties with its 15 current diplomatic allies.
Taiwan lost seven diplomatic allies to China during Tsai’s first four-year term — Sao Tome and Principe, Panama, Dominican Republic, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati.
Weeks before Tsai’s second-term inauguration, speculation had again floated around international and Taiwan media that Taipei’s ties with Haiti, Paraguay and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are in danger.
Some analysts also warned that Beijing is likely to snatch away more of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies if Tsai’s inaugural speech “crosses the line.”
On April 17, the Paraguayan Senate took a vote on whether to urge the president to change diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. However, the petition was defeated with a vote of 25-16 and four abstentions.
In a video compilation of congratulatory messages from foreign dignitaries to Tsai that was played during her inauguration ceremony, Nicaragua and Paraguay were represented by their vice-presidents, while all the country’s diplomatic allies, except for the Vatican, were represented by their president or premier.
This again raised doubts about Taiwan’s relations with the two countries, but the MOFA issued a statement on Thursday affirming the state of Taiwan’s diplomatic relations with the two countries.
“Our country has long maintained close relations with Nicaragua and Paraguay in the fields of health, education, culture, sports and agriculture,” the statement said.
“The two governments have written to World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in support of Taiwan’s participation in WHO and also spoke out for Taiwan during the recent World Health Assembly session,” it added.