PM Gonsalves on state visit to Taiwan despite China tensions
Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gonsalves will meet with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (left) during his visit to Taiwan (Taiwan News file photo)
August 5, 2022
PM Gonsalves on state visit to Taiwan despite China tensions

Even with tensions soaring between China and Taiwan over the recent visit to Taiwan by Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has left the state for an official visit to Taiwan.

St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has had diplomatic relations with Taiwan since 1981. As a result, both countries have had mutually beneficial relations in areas of their greatest needs.

SVG has stood for and with Taiwan in international fora where the voice of Taiwan’s 23 million inhabitants needs to be heard.

Vincentians in turn have benefited from Taiwanese assistance in the areas of agriculture, health, education and social development.

It has often been touted that St Vincent and the Grenadines is a friend of Taiwan.

On Wednesday August 3, Gonsalves brought home the truth in this statement, when he left the state for a two-day visit to the United States and a possible one week visit to the Republic of China on Taiwan.

“I am going to see our friends in Taiwan, and we will further strengthen our relations,” Gonsalves said during a call to NBC Radio.

The Prime Minister was at the time at the Argyle International Airport, awaiting his flight out of SVG.

In a relatively short call to the ‘Face to Face’ programme, Gonsalves said “I want the people of the Republic of China on Taiwan to know that we continue to be in solidarity with them.”

“For the peaceful settlement of any dispute between themselves,” and their brothers and sisters, on mainland China.

At the moment, tension is high in that part of Asia, after Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan sparked military operations by the Chinese navy and armed forces.

Before leaving the state on Wednesday, the Prime Minister stated “The government of St Vincent and the Grenadines is calling upon the People’s Republic of China to desist from the military exercises designed to threaten or intimidate the people of Taiwan.”

The Prime Minister added that this country believes in the peaceful settlement of disputes.

He recalled that the dispute between China and Taiwan dates back to 1949. However, although they have been feuding for years, the people of China and the people of Taiwan “are part of the same Chinese civilization,” Gonsalves added.

He expressed the view that “a civilization can have different political expressions,” as exists between China and Taiwan.

The Prime Minister however stressed “whatever the challenge, the contradictions, the difficulties, the problems between those two territories of the same civilization, it is for them to sort out their problems peacefully.” He stressed that China’s aggressive response to Pelosi’s Visit to Taiwan “does nothing for world peace.”

Gonsalves said China’s actions exacerbate the problem, and make it worse, which has “a spill over effect on the rest of the world”.

According to Gonsalves, the present tension in Asia, “affects countries as far away as St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

The Vincentian Prime Minister further promised to write a letter to the Chinese government, urging them to desist from their present course of action against Taiwan.

“Let us settle our disputes peacefully.”

“It is better to be talking and talking, than warring and warring,” Gonsalves advised.

While in Taiwan, Gonsalves and the members of Vincentian delegation plan to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen and other high level officials in that country.

This is Dr Gonsalves’ 10th visit to Taiwan, since becoming Prime Minister in 2001.

“I am not going to allow any tensions there to prevent a visit, or to hold me back from visiting a friend and ally, because of the actions of the Peoples Republic of China.”

“We have important business to transact with the Republic of China on Taiwan, and that’s what I am going there for,” Dr Gonsalves emphasized.

While St Vincent and the Grenadines has diplomatic relations with Taiwan, Dr Gonsalves said we work with China, at the level of the United Nations, and also at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) of which China is a non borrowing member.

The Prime Minister explained that St Vincent and the Grenadines does not have diplomatic relations with China, because that country has set a condition, where in order to do so, St Vincent and the Grenadines would have to sever ties with Taiwan.

He said if China removes this condition, “we will have formal diplomatic relations.”

“But you can’t tell me to abandon a friend, in order to come and have diplomatic relations with you.”

“That’s entirely unacceptable,” the Prime Minister asserted.