THE Guyana Government has moved to terminate a day-old agreement which had initially granted approval for the establishment of a Taiwanese trade office, here in Guyana. The approval for the office raised questions relative to Guyana’s relationship with the People’s Republic of China, which considers Taiwan to be a breakaway province under the ‘One China’ principle. Taiwan, on the other hand, has been pushing to become an independent nation.
As concerns surfaced, the Government of Guyana responded via a press release issued via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
“The Government of Guyana wishes to clarify that it continues to adhere to the ‘One China’ policy and its diplomatic relations remain intact with the People’s Republic of China,” the Government reassured.
The statement emphasised the fact that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic administration has not established any diplomatic ties or relations with Taiwan. The ministry said that it was forced to terminate the agreement, “as a result of the miscommunication”.
The controversial agreement was signed in January, 2021, and made public following a statement from the United States Embassy in Georgetown, which welcomed the decision.
“The United States applauds the agreement to establish a Taiwan Office in Guyana. Deepening ties between Guyana and Taiwan will advance their shared goals of prosperity and security. Closer ties with Taiwan will advance cooperation and development in Guyana on the basis of shared democratic values, transparency, and mutual respect,” the US Embassy statement read.
Appearing on a News-Talk radio programme on Wednesday evening, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Elisabeth Harper, asserted that “Guyana has not recognised Taiwan as a State.”
She added: “We continue to accept the One China policy and our diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China remains intact.” She highlighted that China was aware of the decision to open the Taiwanese trade office in Guyana, and that the establishment of the office was geared towards “attracting trade and investment opportunities”.
“That is what the focus is; there is nothing on the diplomatic side…. It’s not something that is new. I believe that when you look at what is happening in the world, when you look at what is happening in Guyana’s economic trajectory and the fact that we are opening up our country for business, then we are looking for credible investments and to give opportunities even to our private sector to do joint ventures even with credible businesses and other businesses that want to invest,” Ambassador Harper said in her radio interview.
She indicated too that there are several other countries that enjoy diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, while still maintaining Taiwanese Offices that deal specifically with trade and economic issues.
Reuter’s news agency had recently reported that “Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin had 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”.
The article pointed to the fact that Taiwan has already secured formal diplomatic relations with 14 countries, including four Caribbean nations. Guyana has reiterated its position to adhere to the ‘One China’ policy and not consider Taiwan an independent nation.
Guyana formally established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China on June 27, 1972, under the leadership of former President, the Late Arthur Chung. This landmark arrangement would see Guyana becoming the very first English-speaking Caribbean country to establish diplomatic relations with China. Over the last few decades, the two countries have enjoyed friendly and mutually beneficial ties that hinge on cultural connections dating back to colonial immigration. China is the motherland of an important fraction of our Guyanese ancestors. In recent years, Guyana has benefitted significantly from loans, and various outreaches from the Chinese Government.
The Guyana Government has assured the Guyanese population that it “continues to adhere to the One China policy and its diplomatic relations remain intact with the People’s Republic of China.”