Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu claimed Tuesday that Beijing dangled a $3.1 billion development package to the Dominican Republic to get the Latin American nation to cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan, which is battling to maintain pro-U.S. economic independence amid China's rise.
"The Government of the Dominican Republic recognises that there is but one China in the world, that the Government of the People's Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China, and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory", the communique said.
Last year Panama switched from Taipei to Beijing, a move signaling that other countries in Central America and the Caribbean, where Taiwan counts several allies, could follow. In early 2016, shortly before Ms. Tsai took office, Beijing re-established ties with Gambia, which had maintained diplomatic relations with Taiwan for almost two decades.
Dominican Republic's Chancellor Miguel Vargas (L) and China's Vice President Wang Qishan in Beijing, China, May 1, 2018.
Ms. Tsai's office said it "regretted" the decision by the Dominican Republic but put the blame on Beijing.
He said his ministry "strongly condemns China's objectionable decision to use dollar diplomacy to convert Taiwan's diplomatic allies" and had summoned the Caribbean country's ambassador to deliver a protest and tell him to close the embassy.
"It was a cost that Taiwan could not match", the official said.
Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted its past assistance to increase the Dominican Republic's rice exports and technology industry.More news: Twitter sold data to app creator involved in Cambridge Analytica scandal
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"We call on China to immediately stop provocative actions of exerting extreme political and military pressure on Taiwan", they said.
"To safeguard our nation's sovereignty and dignity, we've chose to terminate diplomatic ties with the Dominican Republic immediately", Wu said at a press conference at which he also said the former ally made the change because of Beijing's financial incentives.
The schism between the two dates back to China's civil war when the Nationalist, or Kuomintang, forces retreated to Taiwan in the late 1940s after being routed by China's communist troops.
"This kind of zero-sum mindset and irrational bullying have severely impaired the "status quo" and the foundation of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait".
The Dominican Republic said it had taken the decision after a long process of consultation, taking its needs and potential into account, according to a statement on the president's website. China, says the text, is today the second global economy, is a world leader in production and export of manufactures, has the banking system with the largest deposits in the world and consumes several products with an increasingly growing demand, due to its large population.
"Of course we know that now we're establishing diplomatic relations, the growth potential of our trade links is huge", presidential legal adviser Flavio Dario Espinal said.
Espinal said the government informed Taiwan of its move earlier Monday and thanked the Taiwanese for "the cooperation that we have shared for years".
"We are deeply grateful for the co-operation we've shared for years", he said.