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Taiwan sets record straight on US $650M for Guatemala

By Marion Ali
Assistant Editor

Reports in the Guatemalan press last week – that Taiwan has provided US $650 million to Guatemala to build a road that some say is the same one that sparked Guatemala’s claim over Belize , are false, Taiwan’s Ambassador to Belize, Charles Liu told the Reporter this week.
In an exclusive interview with the ambassador since the erroneous report, he told the Reporter that he checked personally with his government, and was informed that Guatemala has only made a request for that amount, but that nothing has been approved.

The ambassador added that officials in their capital, Taipei, also said that they are not in a position to provide that amount of money to Guatemala because of economic constraints that Taiwan herself has been faced with.

“According to what Taipei told me officially, it is only a request. It is not a done deal. And Taipei also told me furthermore, since right now [in] Taiwan we also face a tight economic situation, it is impossible” for Guatemala to get that amount, Ambassador Liu assured.
Ambassador Liu said his country has many friends, dating back for decades. Taiwan is a friend with both Belize and Guatemala, and each country has supported Taiwan in getting international support at the United Nations in her plight against China. So Taiwan, in return, assists her allies in the form of grants, loans, and technical assistance.
“We will do what we can. If we are not, we will tell our friend this is our limit; but as we promise, we will fulfill our promise to our friends,” the ambassador explained.

The report surfaced last week in some sectors of the Guatemalan press that their Foreign Minister, Carlos Raul Morales had secured US $650 Million from Taiwan when he visited there in July. It caused a stir among Belizeans because that amount is a far cry from the $60 million in grants and loans Taiwan just recently approved for Belize, to be disbursed over the next four years.

Ambassador Liu did not only debunk the report, but he insists that Taiwan favours no country over the next.
“For our friends, everybody is equal, even though Guatemala is a much bigger country, a bigger population than in Belize, but in the world community, we are all the same…just like in the family,” the Taiwanese official assured.

He went further to share that Belize has been an even stronger supporter of Taiwan’s cause than Guatemala: “I do think, just like Minister Elrington has said, that Belize even spoke out for Taiwan frequently and much stronger than what Guatemala has been doing in the world arena. So that’s why I think the Taiwanese people and the Taiwan government appreciates Belize the most.”

Ambassador Liu indicated that during his term, he wants to try to get more technical assistance and scholarships available to Belize. He shared that in the 50’s and 60’s Taiwan boosted its growth using the same methods as we are now, by applying to the United States for loans.
Notably, Taiwan is in a similar situation with China as Belize is with Guatemala. China has claims to Taiwan as does Guatemala over Belize. As for Belize’s position with Guatemala, he says Taiwan supports the notion that we settle our territorial differences at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

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