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Diplomacy

Dominican Republic opens new embassy in mainland China after ditching Taiwan as ally

  • Ceremony in Beijing follows Caribbean state’s decision to abandon Taipei
  • China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi says countries are ‘writing new history’
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 November, 2018, 5:05pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 November, 2018, 9:34pm

The Dominican Republic opened its new embassy in mainland China on Saturday, months after switching its allegiance to Beijing from the self-ruled island of Taiwan.

Dominican President Danilo Medina and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi unveiled a plaque commemorating the occasion.

Speaking at the ceremony, Wang praised the Dominican Republic’s decision to sever ties with Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province, saying China and the Caribbean nation were “writing new history”.

“This is due to the wise decision of establishing diplomatic relations between China and the Dominican Republic.”

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Dominican Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas said that by opening the new embassy, the two countries were “opening a very relevant chapter in the international relations of the Dominican Republic”.

The ceremony followed meetings between Medina and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday, where the leaders celebrated their new ties and oversaw the signing of 18 agreements to cooperate in a variety of areas from finance to civil aviation.

The Dominican Republic abandoned Taiwan in May, as part of a campaign by Beijing to split the island from its few remaining diplomatic allies.

The country was joined in its decision by Panama and El Salvador, defections that have irked the United States, which maintains strong support for Taipei despite its own recognition of Beijing.

Beijing has tried to paint the moves as economic and not motivated by any desire to undermine Taiwan.

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Only 17 countries remain in Taiwan’s diplomatic circle as the island struggles to fend off Beijing’s growing influence around the globe.

The Chinese mainland and Taiwan have been governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949, but Beijing sees the island as part of its territory to be brought back into the fold.

The two sides have for years been engaged in a diplomatic tug of war in developing countries, with economic support and other aid often used as bargaining chips for diplomatic recognition.

Central America has been a key bastion for Taiwan, with Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua still recognising Taipei rather than Beijing, which has used its economic muscle and promises of investment to entice governments.

The US recognises Beijing but is congressionally bound to ensure Taiwan’s defence, with President Donald Trump’s administration especially vocal on defending Taipei diplomatically.