Washington recalled today three diplomats from Latin American nations to discuss how the support of United States could be made stronger, independent and democratic to pressure the region not to cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan for China.
The diplomats are ambassador to the Dominican Republic Robin Bernstein, ambassador to El Salvador Jean Manes and the charge d’affaires in Panama Roxanne Cabral. All the three are to meet leaders in Washington and return back to their posts by September 14.
Point of concern for United States is growing influence of China in the region. Lately the Chinese government has been able to court diplomatic partners of Taiwan, which is now being recognized by just seventeen countries.
Washington maintains a diplomatic presence in Taiwan and lately is trying to strengthen ties with South Asian nations so that the help and support of China in the region could be balanced.
United States fears some of the Central American countries like Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua could shift their focus to China similar to what Burkina Faso did about a month ago and Panama wrapped up all ties with Taiwan last year in June. Both the moves shocked Washington.
Univision consultant John Feeley, who was American ambassador to Panama until March 2018, said the American recall was significant.
He added, “My sense is that they will be most focused on the issue of industrial and commercial espionage and the possibility of Beijing using its embassies to expand that activity in those countries and the Caribbean Basin.”
China currently is second largest economy in the world and experts believe if the growth speed remains same for a decade or more it may overtake United States. Under such circumstances the smaller countries find tough to recognize sovereignty of China.
Both China and Taiwan have played the role of checkbook diplomacy over the years to lure countries with offers, aids and incentives. In recent years China has increased financial packages in contracts, loans, infrastructure projects and other such overseas.
Meanwhile, experts believe Trump’s policy to alienate people of Latin America is forcing the governments in the region to push back against American requests, and this should not be a surprise to United States.