Xi Jinping reminds new diplomatic ally El Salvador: ‘Stick to the one-China principle’

  • Chinese president also tells visiting Salvadoran counterpart Salvador Sanchez Ceren that Beijing will boost economic ties with the country
  • He says China is willing to increase imports from Central American nation and promote it as a destination for Chinese tour groups
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 November, 2018, 10:20pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 November, 2018, 7:40am

President Xi Jinping on Thursday called on El Salvador to strictly uphold the one-China principle and pledged more bilateral economic cooperation with the Central American nation, months after it switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing from Taipei.

Xi made the remarks during a meeting with Salvadoran President Salvador Sanchez Ceren in Beijing, his first visit to China since official ties were established in August.

El Salvador’s decision to switch recognition is seen as part of Beijing’s efforts to ratchet up pressure on Taiwan and isolate the self-ruled island since pro-independence President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016. Taipei now has just 17 diplomatic allies left.

The US has warned that El Salvador’s move would “affect the economic health and security of the entire Americas region” and accused the nation of “falling prey” to China’s interference.

On Thursday, Xi said establishing diplomatic ties between China and El Salvador was the “decision of two sovereign nations” and was done in accordance with international laws.

The two nations faced the “important task” of further boosting their relations by improving trust, Xi was quoted as saying by state broadcaster CCTV.

“El Salvador has to stick to the one-China principle, which is the foundation of China-El Salvador relations, to build a more solid base for bilateral relations,” Xi said.

Beijing praises its own ‘import expo’ despite snub from US

He also said Beijing would encourage more Chinese companies to invest in and take on more infrastructure projects with the Central American nation.

China was willing to increase imports from El Salvador, provide expertise and promote the nation as a destination for Chinese tour groups, Xi said. He added that the two nations should work together to protect multilateralism and push forward China’s relations with Latin America.

Sanchez Ceren, meanwhile, said establishing ties with Beijing would bring benefits to Salvadorans, and that he was confident about their bilateral relations.

China has stepped up its investment and presence in Latin America and the Caribbean in recent years. Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina will also visit China this week after it cut off ties with Taiwan.

China has also encouraged Latin American countries to take part in the “Belt and Road Initiative”, a strategy launched by Xi to boost trade and infrastructure links.

But Chinese companies’ interest in building ports in the region has caused unease in the United States.

China’s new alliance stirs US worries over possible ‘military base’ in El Salvador

In July, US ambassador to El Salvador Jean Manes warned that China planned to turn the La Union commercial port in the country’s east into a “military base”.

Meanwhile, Taiwan has blamed the Central American nations of falling into Beijing’s “dollar diplomacy” trap. Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province to be taken back, with the use of force if necessary.