He Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitezdescribed this Thursday to taiwan as a “beacon of democracy in the region” and described Taipei and Asunción as “strategic partners and allies for a peaceful and sustainable world” after being feted with military honors by his Taiwanese counterpart, Tsai Ing-wen.
Abdo Benítez, who arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday for a four-day official visitexpressed his “pride that Taiwan and Paraguay continue to strengthen their ties day by day through cultural and commercial exchanges” and thanked Taipei for “technical assistance” in “essential areas for the development of the Paraguayan people such as health or education.”
Paraguay is one of the 14 countries that officially recognizes the Taipei government against Beijing, which considers Taiwan as part of Chinese territory. But decades-old diplomatic ties between Taiwan and Paraguay could be severed if the opposition candidate wins. Ephraim Alegrewho said he would change relations with the island if he won the April elections.
The South American president recalled that the island “reached out to Paraguay in difficult times” and provided “key humanitarian aid” during the pandemic to his country, the only one in South America that maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan instead of with China.
“Our countries defend principles such as respect for the self-determination of peoples and territorial integrity, democracy and fundamental freedoms”, indicated Abdo Benítez, who stressed that Asunción “has always supported Taiwan’s participation in the United Nations according to the principle of universality contained in its founding charter”.
The president conveyed his “genuine admiration” for the Taiwanese peopleof which he assured that “he never gives up on defend their independence and sovereignty against threats and tensions” adding that Taiwan is a “valued partner with much to contribute to the international community”.
Abdo Benítez’s trip took place just two months before an election in which the opposition coalition candidate is considering cutting ties with Taipei to establish them with Beijing.
For her part, the Taiwanese president highlighted the “sustained deepening of diplomatic ties” between Asunción and Taipei and the “achievements resulting from their mutual cooperation.”
Tsai, who has visited Paraguay twice during her tenure, recalled that the two countries “faced the challenges of the pandemic together” and expressed her hope that Taiwan and Paraguay “continue jointly promoting development and economic prosperity after the pandemic.” .
In the entourage that accompanies the Paraguayan president there are other senior officials such as the foreign minister, Julio César Arriola, or the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Luis Castiglioni.
is the second time that the South American president visits the territorysince in 2017 he was present at the celebration of Taiwan’s national day.
Latin America has been a key region in the diplomatic battle between China and Taiwan since they separated in 1949 after the civil war.
For decades, China has tried to convince various diplomatic allies of Taipei to sideline the island.. In recent years, eight countries have changed position and opted for Beijing, the last of them Nicaragua.
In 2021, Taiwan accused Beijing of trying to lure Paraguay into trading its diplomatic recognition in exchange for coronavirus vaccines. At the time, the head of Taiwanese diplomacy Joseph Wu said that “vaccine diplomacy” had been a great pressure on the government of Abdo Benítez, especially with a political opposition “very willing to link up with China.”
Taiwan has been governed autonomously under the official name of the Republic of China since 1949, when the KMT nationalists retreated there after losing the Chinese civil war against the communists, so Beijing continues to consider it a rogue province and claims its sovereignty.
(With information from EFE and AFP)
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