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By Lisa Hamilton
The Government of Taiwan believes that had not China stepped in to get Guyana to renounce its agreement for an embassy here all would have gone well and as planned.
After Guyana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Thursday that there was some form of “miscommunication” with Taiwanese officials regarding the agreement signed for the establishment of the Office, Taiwan was quick to point out that China caused Guyana to recoil.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of China (Taiwan) brandishes a notice on its page on February 4, 2021, that the Foreign Ministries of Taiwan and Guyana had reached “a consensus for the establishment of a Taiwan Office” in Guyana since January 11, 2021.
The website states that the Taiwan Office moved quickly into action, initiating operations provisionally on January 15, 2021, and was in the process of “acquiring suitable accommodation”.
“Under the agreement, should Guyana decide eventually to set up an office of equal status in Taiwan, similar conditions and privileges as the Taiwan Office in Guyana shall apply,” the notice stated.
During this period, the Guyanese public knew nothing of the agreement. It holds great consequence as China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province which it has vowed to retake by force if necessary.
However, Taiwan’s leaders argue that the island is a sovereign state. Until the agreement of the two countries, Guyana had maintained the ‘One-China’ policy which does not recognise Taiwan as independent.
Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd or the Government itself has not yet explained what exactly was the “misconception” regarding the agreement and why it took weeks for them to realise this.
It wasn’t until over three weeks after the signing of the agreement, on February 3, 2021, that it came to the fore with a congratulatory message from the United States (US) Embassy in Guyana. It stated: “The United States applauds the agreement to establish a Taiwan Office in Guyana.” The US has supported Taiwan in the past by supplying defensive weapons to protect against Beijing’s assertions. Since the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) took office in August 2020, it has formed closer ties with the US, with a visit from former US Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo and others.
Even so, as the media ran with the information about the new Taiwan agreement, no official announcement came from the Government of Guyana or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs notifying that there was a “misconception”.
On February 4, 2021 more media agencies locally and internationally picked up the information adding to it that Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Joanne Ou, that day held a press conference announcing that it had reached an agreement with Guyana. She held up a map of Guyana as a means of explaining where the country is located.
Later that day, China joined the conversation. According to CNN, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin responded to the move by saying Beijing hoped Guyana would not engage in official ties with Taiwan, calling on the country to “earnestly take steps to correct their mistake.”
It was there after Guyana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs abruptly announced the termination of the agreement and its loyalty to China and the One-China policy. Over the years, Beijing has poured billions in aid to Guyana with some 20,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines pledged recently to the country.
With the news of the termination, Taiwan believes that it was snubbed of diplomatic ties with Guyana.
“The government of Taiwan is disappointed that despite multiple efforts, Guyana did not change its decision made under pressure from the Chinese government,” Taiwan stated.
“Taiwan expresses its deepest displeasure and condemnation at the Chinese government for resorting again to bullying tactics to suppress Taiwan’s international presence and deny the Taiwanese people the right to participate in international affairs. The Chinese government’s relentless efforts to isolate Taiwan in the international arena contradict its leader’s recent declaration that ‘the strong should not bully the weak’…”
Members of the APNU+AFC Opposition have since called to question the Government’s secrecy on the Taiwan agreement and has accused the PPP/C of being “unlearned” and “irresponsible” with Guyana’s foreign policy. Opposition Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amanza Walton-Desir has even called for Minister Todd to resign.
The news of the squashing of Guyana’s agreement with Taiwan now swarms international media entities such as CNN, The Guardian, Reuters, South China Morning Post and other Regional entities.
Headlines include: ‘Guyana rolls back plan to open Taiwan office after Beijing criticizes ‘mistake’ and ‘China condemned as evil after Guyana drops deal to open Taiwan office’.
In Guyana, Members of the Opposition continue to pour out their questions. They have asked whether the signing of the agreement was influenced by the outgoing Trump Administration which upped interest in Guyana in recent months.
They’ve also questioned what other secrets of national interest the Government is keeping from the Guyanese public such as the full terms and conditions under which President of Venezuela, Nicholas Maduro agreed to release the fishermen and their vessels previously detained.
All efforts by the Village Voice News to contact Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hugh Todd for more information have proven futile.