Belize and Guatemala reaffirm ties to Taiwan

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Belize on Monday reaffirmed its diplomatic ties with Taiwan, becoming the second country to do so in a week as Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen travels across Central America in an effort to shore up a dwindling number of allies.

“Together we can promote our shared values like democracy, the right of the people to self determination and respect for international law,” Johnny Briceno, Belize’s prime minister, said in a speech before the country’s National Assembly.

Belize follows in the footsteps of Guatemala, another ally of Taiwan, whose leader declared its relationship with the self-governed island “unchangeable” during a visit by Ms Ing-wen.

The two Central American nations represent two of Taiwan’s 13 formal allies across the world, a number that has dipped as China has put pressure on and funnelled money into isolating the island.

Belize Taiwan Central America
Belize’s Prime Minister Johnny Briceno speaks during the visit of Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen at the National Assembly in Belmopan, Belize (Moises Castillo/AP)

Over the past two decades, China has slowly carved out a space for itself in Latin America by pouring money into the region, investing in major infrastructure, energy and space projects.

That investment has translated to rising power for China and a growing number of allies at a time of geopolitical importance.

“The people of Taiwan face constant threats and pressure from the neighbour on the other side of the Taiwan Strait,” Ms Ing-wen said of China, speaking in Belize’s capital of Belmopan.

Taipei, meanwhile, has struggled to keep up.

During her stay in Guatemala, Ms Ing-wen visited a rural hospital built with a donation from Taiwan.

Meanwhile, before Belize’s National Assembly, the country’s leader Mr Briceno listed off a number of development projects funded by Taiwan, including farming programs and funds to build key infrastructure like hospitals.

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