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El Salvador’s president, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, announced in a nationally televised speech that his government has broken off diplomatic relations with Taiwan and instead established ties with China, Reuters reported.
“We are convinced this is a step in the right direction that corresponds to the principles of international law of international relations and the inevitable trends of our time,” he said.
Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi, said that El Salvador had made the right decision.
“I’m confident that the people of El Salvador will feel the warmth and friendship of the Chinese people and derive tangible benefits from its cooperation with China” Wang told reporters alongside his El Salvador counterpart, Carlos Castaneda, shortly after the pair signed an agreement establishing ties.
Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told reporters earlier that Taipei was not willing to engage in “money competition” with its giant neighbor.
As of today, Taiwan has official relations with only 17 countries, many of them being small and less developed nations of Central America and the Pacific, such as Belize and Nauru.
Taiwan has vowed today to fight China’s “increasingly out of control” behavior. Speaking in Taipei, President Tsai Ing-wen said that Taiwan would not bow to pressure, describing El Salvador’s decision as further evidence of China’s efforts to squeeze the island, which have included regular Chinese bomber patrols around Taiwan.
“We will turn to countries with similar values to fight together against China’s increasingly out-of-control international behavior,” Tsai said.
The U.S. ambassador in El Salvador, Jean Manes, wrote in a Twitter post on Tuesday that the United States was analyzing El Salvador’s “worrisome” decision to break ties with Taiwan.
“The US is analyzing the decision of ElSalvador. It is worrisome for many reasons, including breaking a relationship of more than 80 years with Taiwan. Without a doubt, this will impact our relationship with the government. We continue supporting the Salvadoran people.”
El Salvador has become the third country to switch allegiances to China this year and the fifth ally overall that Taiwan will lose. The other four countries are Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic, Sao Tome and Principe and Panama.
China’s hostility to Taiwan has grown since Tsai’s election as Beijing fears that she wishes to push for the island’s formal independence. She says that she wants to maintain the status quo but will defend Taiwan’s democracy.