Guyana is now hosting Taiwan’s representative office, as announced by the island’s foreign ministry on Thursday.
In a Reuters report, Taiwan has reported that it signed an agreement with Guyana on January 11 to open a Taiwan Office, which in effect is a de facto embassy for the island that “China claims as its sovereign territory with no right to diplomatic ties.”
The move apparently drew praise from the United States, which has been concerned about the broadening Chinese influence in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Guyana’s Foreign Minister Hugh Todd explained that the said office will serve as a trade and investment office in the country’s capital, Georgetown, to “create space” for the private sectors from Taiwan and Guyana that wish to do business together.
On January 15, Taiwan’s office had begun its initial operations.
According to its Foreign Ministry, Taiwan aims to nurture its ties with one of the world’s most sparsely populated countries. Guyana is rich in mining and oil resources, and its capital is the seat of the secretariat for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
A former British colony, Guyana is strategically located next to Venezuela, another major Chinese ally in the region with which Guyana is in conflict with in terms of territorial issues.
Guyana has a special relationship with China. In fact, according to a separate report, Guyana benefits from Chinese built-roads connecting its far-flung frontiers to domestic economic centers and global markets. Meanwhile, while Beijing sees Guyana as a potentially valuable gateway between the Panama Canal and Brazil-bound Chinese goods.
In line with this, Todd clarified: “Guyana is not recognising Taiwan as an independent state. Guyana is not establishing diplomatic relations with Taipei.”
Still, the U.S. embassy in Guyana expressed its approval. “Closer ties with Taiwan will advance cooperation and development in Guyana on the basis of shared democratic values, transparency, and mutual respect”,” it said in a statement.
In a statement, Beijing hoped Guyana would not forge official ties with Taiwan and called on the country to “earnestly take steps to correct their mistake”.
Taiwan has forged formal diplomatic relations with 14 countries, including four Caribbean nations.